Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog
design, Life, Our Home

Our Home – The Hall and The Bathroom

This is the last in a series to take you on a tour of our home in progress.

You can see other spaces here: Our Bedroom, Élie’s Room, The Living Room, and The Kitchen


One of the best features of our apartment is the long hallway that connects all the rooms. It isn’t very wide, less than 3 feet actually, and has seven doors leading off of it (so. many. doors.) but it is such a great opportunity for storage!

Did I ever tell you about the move? About how we sent Albert away to kitty camp (chez R’s mother and her fantastic garden) so the move wouldn’t stress him and how we left for a three week summer vacation two days after moving in? We did. On the one had, it was fantastic to recover from the stress of the move without looking at boxes and it gave us time and distance to daydream about how we wanted to set things up. On the other hand, coming back to a strange space packed with boxes. Ugh. So here was the scene when we came back from vacation, Albert in tow.

Hall Before | egg & dart blog

He adapts quickly. Ha! But to start with, we only had our former dining table bench to toss our keys and mail on. It was a start but there was so much more that space could do! So we grabbed a shallow Besta unit from Ikea, knowing that we wanted something to maximize storage but also that would float on the wall, keeping the space from feeling too cramped and giving us a spot for shoes underneath. Here was the hall after the unit was installed, but before we bought doors, and we had gone on (yet another) Ikea trip.

Hall Before | egg & dart blog

You can catch a glimpse of another problem we had to tackle, the beautiful electrical board and electricity meter on the end wall. Here’s where this space is today:

Apartment Hall | egg & dart blog Hallway Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog

Right next to the front door, the floating cabinet houses umbrellas, pocket tissues, mittens and hats in the winter, travel and guide books, things for venturing out like refillable water bottles and binoculars, but also extra lightbulbs, candles, shoe polishing supplies – a lot! Deceiving what you can fit in it despite its narrow width.

Above it, the gallery wall of frames has gone through quite a lot of changes and probably still will but for the moment I still love this collect of bits and pieces from our life, pictures from some of our favorite places, the Louvre and a vacation spot, a little Dürer owl that was my parents’, a sketch by my Uncle and found bits like the cork bark and pressed leaves. Even the key bowl is found – people throw out the best things sometimes! This mix of pieces on the wall helps disguise the lovely intercom phone which, believe me, I looked into changing. Farther down the hall, you can see in the first picture a basket that hides the recycling and yet another basket and collection of Élie’s toys. Having pretty baskets everywhere to toss those things into makes clean-up a breeze!

Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum) | egg & dart blog Apartment Hall | egg & dart blog

Under the cabinet we have space for a tray for shoes and I keep a big vintage glass container by the door for wet umbrellas and a basket keeps reusable shopping bags handy. Taking them all out of the basket is also an excellent baby game.

And from this angle you can see our solution to hide the electrical board: we built a simple custom cabinet with a door to mount directly on the wall around it. This gives us even more storage that I haven’t been able to outfit yet but will soon. It was a challenge because these old walls are far from straight but luckily you can only tell when nothing is on the hooks and you stand at a certain angle looking from Élie’s room.

Hallway Gallery Wall | egg & dart blog

We’ve accomplished most everything on our list in the hall but there are still just a couple tweaks on my list. I’m considering finding an old wooden door to replace the modern one we put on the electrical board cabinet, to add a bit more texture to the space. Originally I had wanted to make the whole thing disappear with an all-over wall treatment (that would wrap the cabinet too), in my dreams with the Nuvole paper from Cole & Sons, but I’m reconsidering that. I’d also like to find some runners for the length of the hallway to soften the sound (baby feet!) and insulate the floor in the cold months.


The last space to introduce you to is the bathroom, which, as is typical in French apartments, is two rooms: the actual bathroom and the ‘loo’ as we’ve taken to calling it. Like the hall, these spaces are less than three feet wide and require creative space planning for storage. The sight right before we moved in:

Bathroom Before | egg & dart blog

The gray tile is so clinical looking and a bit wonky and, while you can’t see it here, the enamel on the “tub” is completely gone and there is nothing to be done about the hard water stains and paint drips in there, Lord help us. We’re still hoping the landlord will agree to refinishing it.

The paint was fresh here but sloppily done: they simply painted around existing wall hooks leaving us with interesting paint outlines on the wall and door when we replaced the hooks and towel bar. In such a narrow space, we needed some better towel solutions.

Bathroom Before | egg & dart blog

(Albert for scale.)

For a while we transplanted a little wooden bedside table we inherited with the apartment to the bathroom for storage. Of course, the medicine cabinet had to go too: not only did it barely produce any light in this space with no natural light, I could only see my eyes and above in it, it was mounted so high! I pretty quickly pulled that as well as all the existing hooks and the shower caddy (again, so high!) off the walls and door and started from scratch. After a lot of tweaks, the bathroom looks like this now:

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog Bathroom Details | egg & dart blog

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

Bathroom Details | egg & dart blogBathroom Details | egg & dart blog

Little oak shelves on mat black brackets take the storage all the way up the wall with lots of baskets for texture and little spots for pretties. A vintage mirror has so much more personality then the old plastic box of a medicine cabinet. We replaced the lighting with a double scone giving us double the light without changing electrical. Of course, Albert’s little box has to live somewhere and that spot is here. Keepin’ it real! And for the shower, I used my favorite trick: hanging a real curtain with a plastic liner as high as I could. Such an easy way to make a simple space feel more luxurious!

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog Driftwood Towel Bar | egg & dart blog

On the opposite wall are a row of simple mat black hooks and two more are on the back of the door giving us space for all of our towels and those of guests if needed. I love the towel rod! It’s a simple piece of driftwood from our walks that I simply screwed two extra long screws through, passing them through long coupling nuts (all painted black) on the back side.

17 Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

But the biggest improvement of all was the flooring. I found a 14€ remnant of seagrass flooring at the hardware store (I couldn’t believe my luck!) and simply cut it to fit the floor snuggly. The hardware store guy insisted it need to be glued down “in case there is a water leak” but I didn’t want to do that, and it seemed to me it would be easier to be able to pull it up quickly if needed. It has been down for more than a year and not only is it wonderful to walk on, we have had no problems in terms of it coming up or any mold since the seagrass naturally repels water. For such a small investment, it has gone a long way to making a basic, kind of sad space feel a bit luxurious, which all bathrooms should, I think.

Again, most things have been crossed off our list in here. I do want to build a simple solution to create a bench over the litter box to disguise it and, if we can figure it out, the scone needs to be moved up the wall as it is a bit low. Then just some finishing tweaks like oiling the wood shelves to protect them and re-hemming the curtains just a touch longer.

Just next to the bathroom is the “loo”. This is the least glamorous space and not much has been done to it.

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

As you can see, I continued the seagrass in here. It has the same chipped gray tile and, at the price I paid for the rug, I thought if putting the seagrass in there doesn’t end up working out, no big deal. But it has been great in there too – insulating the floor so it’s warmer as well as insulating sound. How do you like what I call our “dancing toilet”? I can’t for the life of me figure out why they installed it at that weird angle so far from the wall.

Other than hanging a Monrovian star light fixture and painting the ceiling Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Blue for a fun little surprise, we haven’t done much in here. Yet. I have a plan for a cabinet to create storage for cleaning supplies and personal items as well as masking the tank. And I can’t wait to properly frame those two little abstract landscapes by Lauren Adams.

Tiny Apartment Bathroom | egg & dart blog

So now you’ve had the whole tour! I’m always hoping that we will finish up the spaces in the near, near future, but I’ll come back with updates when we manage them and some posts about my favorite small space strategies.

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes

Roasted Red Pepper & Tapenade Tart [1 x 3 Ways]

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

In the U.S. today is Memorial Day and in France it is Pentecost Monday but I think either place, it is officially picnic season! So I’ve got the perfect recipe for you to bring along to those picnics – easy, brightly flavorful, and quick!

This is the first recipe in a new series: 1 X 3 Ways. The idea is to offer up some of my simple ways of using the same element to make very different dishes. I often throw together easy meals using bits and pieces I find in the fridge or cabinets and simple is often times the best kind of meal! So this series will bring you three different riffs on one ingredient, starting with puff pastry today.

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

Roasted Red Peppers |egg & dart blog

Here’s the thing, I hesitate to call this a recipe it is so simple! But that is part of what is so delightful about it, you don’t have to spend forever in the kitchen for big flavor. Using bright basil and green olive tapenade and sweet roasted red peppers makes a humble tart with lots of interesting dimension. Generous amounts of fresh basil before serving make it sing! I love this kind of savory tart with other little treats, cheeses and cured meats and pickled things, served with a simple green salad and a glass of rosé you’ll have the absolute perfect lazy summer evening meal!

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

Roasted Red Pepper & Tapenade Savory Tart

Serves 4

If you can’t find basil and green olive tapenade, which I realize is quite specific, look for any green olive tapenade as the traditional black olives would be too strong here.

– 1 x 250g package of puff pastry (thawed if frozen)

– 1 – 2 roasted red peppers, depending on their size, cut into thin strips

– 2 1/2 tbsp. basil and green olive tapenade

– 60g fresh mozzarella, half an average sized mozzarella ball

– olive oil

– a good handful of fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F with your baking pan turned upside down in it. Preheating the pan with the oven will give you a beautifully crisp crust and turning the pan upside down will make it easy to slide the finished tart off onto a cutting board. This is the same technique I use for pizza; using a pizza stone if you have one would be fantastic as well.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking pan and lightly flour it. On the parchment, roll out your pastry into a rectangle about 1/2 cm / 1/4″ thick. Being careful not to cut through the pastry, lightly score 1 cm / 1/2″ in from the edge all the way around then, using a fork, gently prick the center section of the pastry all around to prevent air bubbles.

Spread the tapenade over the center of the pastry (inside the lines you scored) with the back of a spoon. Arrange your pepper slices on top however you like, either randomly or in a loose pattern like I did. Top with the mozzarella torn into pieces and drizzle the tart and edges with a tiny bit of olive oil.

Using a small cutting board slid under the parchment to help you lift it, transfer the tart to the pan in the oven, taking care not to burn yourself! Bake until puffed and golden and most of the moisture released by the cheese has disappeared, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven by sliding the parchment and tart onto a cooling rack or cutting board and let cool to just warm. Top with a generous amount of fresh basil and enjoy!

While this tart can be made ahead, I would definitely recommend making it the day of because refrigerated it losses all its lovely crispness.


I’ll have a second recipe for you in the series next week. In the meantime, are there any ingredients you’d be interested in seeing used three ways? I’m curious to hear what you think.

xo,

A.

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Friday Postcard

Friday Postcard

Radishes | egg & dart blog

It’s a sunny, warm Friday here and another week has melted into a long holiday weekend here in France (three in the month of May!). I’m feeling buoyed by a clear head and small victories (and the pieces of sweet strawberries Élie is feeding me) after a number of false starts yesterday. Choosing joy today! And so I’m looking forward to trying out a simple pickled radish recipe with these radishes this weekend, as you may have seen on instagram already. I anticipate pickled radishes on everything for a while!

So I’m wishing you a good Friday and a lovely weekend. What will you be up to?

xo,

A.

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design, Life, Our Home

Our Home – The Kitchen

The kitchen has been the hardest room to work out in this apartment. Not only is it tiny, it came with only a sink and the accompanying cabinet. That space under the sink was literally the only built-in storage in the entire apartment when we arrived!

As with all the other rooms, the kitchen had been freshly repainted, which was a blessing, but was still sporting a strange little makeshift wooden counter covered in worn and peeling contact paper. I ripped it out before we even moved our things in. Here are Romain’s quick iphone snaps of the empty space when we signed the lease:

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Forgive his ghostly reflection. That window is the only source of outside light in the space and it looks onto a dingy open space between the buildings, getting no direct light what-so-ever. So apologies in advance for the poor light in all these pictures.

In French apartments, more often than not your washing machine goes in the kitchen and you bring all your own appliances with you. We had a fridge and washing machine but our previous apartment was an exception to the rule with a built-in gas stove-top but no oven. So for a few weeks, we lived in your new space with only a small counter-top oven for cooking. Luckily it was August and we were more than happy to eat most meals cold. Once the stove arrived, we started to really see how the space would function, not that there were a million possibilities! Here’s a picture with a tired pregnant girl for scale.

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Ugh, what a sorry sight. We lived like that with no countertop until months after Élie was born when we finally had the time to construct a hinged counter to allow our top-loading machine to open, and to add two critical Ikea cabinets, one of which was the Rationell cabinet which I think has been discontinued? But the open storage wasn’t as functional as it could have been and Romain built boxes to turn the open shelves into drawers. Now there is so much I can store in this sliver of space!

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Fast forward, here is where we are today.

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So much better than where we started! Now even the tops of the machines store platters and baking dishes under the counter – every tiny space needs to be working hard here! But we aren’t done. The counter needs to be replaced now that we have a different front-loading machine, eliminating the need for a hinged counter. A piece of this may be cut for the counter next to the stove. Also on the list: priming and painting the open storage shelving, toes kicks, and the drawers of the Rationell as well as finding hardware for them and building out a coffer on the back of the countertop to hide the water shut-off and, eventually, spice bottles.

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This wall of open shelving has been fantastic! We use everything on here in the everyday so dust is never a problem and unloading the dishwasher is so easy, especially since the shelves and dishwasher, on opposite sides of the room, can both be reached without moving. Tiny. Kitchen. They will be painted a pale gray color whose sample is on the right on the bottom shelf. The jars hold grains and flours.

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The under-sink storage was difficult to access because a pipe runs along the wall on the right and into the cabinet. You can see in the first images, a notch was cut out of the right door to let the pipe pass but this meant that the door would only open about halfway which was so frustrating! Then Romain had the genius idea of making them large pull-out drawers instead of doors which has made them a thousand times more useful. We built three drawer boxes (one on the right for the trash and cleaning supplies) and two on the left (for pots and food storage) and attached them to runners. The doors and the knobs will be replaced; while you can’t tell in the pictures, the doors are impossible to paint and even after four coats are showing through so we decided to save our sanity and grab some Ikea kitchen doors.

You can also see that I covered that window with an organza panel from our first apartment together to soften the view. We installed an wall lamp and the function is perfect (it swings side-to-side to let the window open) but I think I’d like to find something with a translucent shade.

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The fridge generated another big project: a big drawer to bring it to eye-level and create even more storage. Like the shelves and other drawers, it is waiting on paint and hardware.

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By the stove, I hide our pans and trivets and even a bag for the glass recycling on a row of hooks behind the door. On the door itself, a hook holds a tray for bringing dishes between the kitchen and living room. Hung below the level of the window panels in the door, the only thing visible from the hallway and when the door is open are our AHeirloom Maine and France cutting boards, used at our wedding. We use them a lot for serving little treats and cheeses and cured meats for lazy weekend lunches. On this side of the kitchen, I need to figure out a backsplash solution for above the stove and a way to hide the pesky vent hood cord hanging down on the right.

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While it may never be as grand as these spaces because a renter can only do so much, here are some of the images that I was inspired by:

inspiration

1. 2. 3. 4.

(While I try and be a stickler about linking to original sources, two of these images, 1 and 4, seem to be from sites that don’t exist anymore but did when I pinned them.)

Airy, simple, white, gray, metallics, linen, wood, and lots of open, easy-to-access storage! If only I could get some of that natural light too.

xo,

A.

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Life

Brocante Finds

Brocante finds | egg & dart blog

We’re home! It was a lovely week of vacation but it is always nice to be home, isn’t it?

Capping off the week of family visiting with a few days at R’s mother’s house, we made the customary Saturday morning trip to the brocante (French flea market) in Orleans. It’s my favorite. For a couple of reasons: the prices are much lower than in Paris, there is more space to move around, the people are nicer (in general). But the best reason is that we never, ever walk away empty handed. Here’s what I found on this trip.

I’ve been on a frame kick lately, picking up any vintage frames I like, even if I don’t have a piece of art in mind for them. Like the ones I found this week, above, they are all pretty unique and if they have some wear on them that tells their story, all the better! But what they have in common is their colors (naturals, metallics, black) and styles (most are very simple profiles). This means I can mix them anywhere in our home and not only will they all relate to each other, they can help pull a disparate collection of images and art into a cohesive one.

Brocante finds | egg & dart blog

This tiny wooden frame is a fairly common and classic style found in the brocantes. It will be so sweet for framing a dried flower maybe or a special ticket stub.

Brocante finds | egg & dart blogBrocante finds | egg & dart blog

The find I was most excited about is this plate from a vintage animal book. The printing is lovely with crisp raised lines for the fur and the colors were applied by hand. I especially love the spots on the jaguar and the lynx’s blue eyes! The seller is one of our favorites and she had a whole pile of plates from this same book of all different sorts of mammals. It was difficult to pick just one.

Brocante finds | egg & dart blog

This is for Élie and as it happened, the middle frame is perfect for it! I can’t wait to find the right spot in his room.

Brocante finds | egg & dart blog

Brocante finds | egg & dart blog

Two of these goodies, the blue enamel bowl and the wooden paddle (originally used for beating the laundry clean) will be props for photos but who am I kidding? I use all those props in the everyday too! And I don’t think you can have enough unique little vases for wildflowers, right? This little Sèvres one is a celadon green with darker green splatters at the bottom.

How was your weekend?

xo,

A.

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Visiting Europe

Hallerbos – Bluebells in Belgium

Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog

“The bluebells are blooming in the Hallerbos right now. It might be something you’d like to check out.”, a friend texted me before our long weekend in Belgium. Her husband is Belgian and, lucky for me, she has explored more of the country than I have gotten to. When I clicked over to their website, I knew we couldn’t miss this.

Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog

Blooming for only one week at the end of April, the bluebells blanket the forest floor to the most astonishing and surreal effect against the chartreuse green of unfurling spring leaves. The forest literally glows. I couldn’t believe our luck when our visit corresponded to that very week. The day was a drizzly one but not too cold, and I would say we actually were very lucky. This kind of half gray day gave the forest an even stronger luminosity and saturation of color.

The Hallerbos is very easy to access, not far from Brussels, and the Belgians seem to make a tradition out of a visit to the bluebells as all the parking areas were full despite the weather. And right they are as this sight is one that I feel so lucky to be able to say I experienced in my life. “Let’s make this a yearly tradition!”, I said to Romain. I can’t wait to see the magic through Élie’s eyes when he is old enough to really absorb the sight.

I only wish you could smell these pictures because the flowers, which bloom alongside large areas of wild garlic in some places, and the fresh tree leaves give off the most delicate, clean perfume of spring. So you’ll have to imagine that part but what I can give you is a visit to the Hallerbos, no matter where you are. Take your time, stroll along, and soak up the colors.

Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Wild garlic at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog Bluebells & wild garlic at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog

Hallerbos

Vlasmarktdreef 4

1500 Halle, Belgium

The bluebells only bloom for a short time at the end of April and the website has a calendar of the blooming season, but this forest has a number of features, that we have yet to explore, that look like they would be beautiful at any time of year.

And a bonus rare sighting: the three of us in one frame!

Bluebells at Hallerbos | egg & dart blog

xo,

A.

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