design, Life, Styling

One Bamboo Table – A Design Exercise

egg & dart blog

Last time I was at my favorite brocante, one of the last things I picked up, arms full of bags and a toddler, was a bamboo folding table. For me, the best way to go at the flew market is with your gut: do you love it? Go with it! Are you not sure? Walk away. This method has never led me astray in almost ten years of brocanting. Do not over think it! So when the price was great and I didn’t have much to lose, I grabbed this little table knowing I’d figure out what to do with it when the time was right.

In the mean time, I decided to give myself the challenge of styling the table for two different set-ups: one as a bedside table and the other as a little writing desk using only what I had access to already at the house.

Bedside table


I love this as a bedside table. If you have the space, it feels luxurious to have such a large surface to keep some of your favorite things nearby while still having space for the necessities.


For me, those necessities are a place to have a glass of water at the ready and a dish for taking off jewelry at the end of the day. For years now, my favorite type of dish for that has been these beautiful vintage salt and pepper dishes! While I don’t keep pinch bowls of salt and pepper for daily use, the little bowls of these dishes are perfect for rings and earrings.


Add books, a focal piece of artwork, maybe a favorite photograph (that one is my husband as a wee one!), and some green and you’ve a bedside table that is useful and inspiring!

Writing Desk


I think we would all like to be better at finding the time to write notes and thank yous by hand. The time you spend thinking of someone while putting pen to paper creates something that feels so much more special than a digital note. I’m pretty sure if I had a pretty little writing spot like this, I’d be better at it, non?




Favorite books and some to pull inspiring quotes from, a box for stamps, envelopes, and writing tools, and some cards ready to be addressed. What else does a writing desk really need? Oh, that pretty little box will be in the shop Friday!



It was wonderful to sneak in the time to try these two set-ups and I’d love to try to find time (and space!) to do more. When I bought this table, I first pictured it for plants and artwork, but who knows how it will end up being used! What do you think?


A special note of thanks to my assistant, above. I could have done it without you. But it maybe wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge. ūüėČ



Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog
Art, design, Visiting France

Chenonceau again

Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

It’s not the first time we’ve been to Chenonceau, and, you might remember, not the first time I’ve written about it (1 & 2). But it is one of those places that you hold dear to your heart. There is something about it besides its location spanning the beautiful Cher River, or its grand but comfortable dimensions, or even its ornate detail. It must be its soul.

Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Halloween day turned out to be a glorious sunny day in central France and, lucky us, R and I had planned to leave √Č and his Mamette to have fun for the day while we went our way. The first time we’ve been gone that long since he was born I think.

It was autumn, my favorite season, and I knew I wanted to go soak up the inspiration and beauty of my favorite chateau. That we needed that. Luckily R was in complete agreement and, to our surprise, we realized it had been more than 5 years since our last visit, after our French wedding in 2011. So we set out for Chenonceau.



The Chateau dates to the 16th century when Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briçonnet demolished the existing castle and mill to build the chateau we see today, minus the wing spanning the river. Katherine supervised the work and incorporated modern art and design, like the flights of straight rather than spiral staircases, a model brought from Italy.

Katherine lived for just two years longer after the castle was finished but she said and had carved into the doors, along with their initials ‘TBK’, this saying: “S’il vient √† point, me souviendra” (If it is completed, I will be remembered). I think she succeeded.




Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Known also as the ‘Chateau des Dames‘ (castle of the ladies), Chenonceau was seized by the crown from Katherine’s son for unpaid debates and King Henri II’s mistress, the famous Diane de Poitiers took up residence. She oversaw the building of the wing over the river, at that time a bridge, and extensive flower and vegetable gardens. While she was particularly fond of Chenonceau, she was forced to give it back to Henri’s widow at his death, Catherine de Medici, who transformed the bridge into a 2-story wing where she hosted spectacular f√™tes and balls. The first fireworks seen in France were displayed over Chenonceau.


Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog




The clever contraption above has a weight on the other end of the rope which hangs out the window over the river. As the weight drops down, the movement rotates the spits on the fire in the kitchen!


Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog




The bedroom on the second floor where this arrangement was is called the Five Queens Room for Catherine’s two daughters and three daughters-in-law, one of whom was Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. There were so many people visiting I wasn’t able to photograph them, but Mary’s guards left fascinating graffiti carved in the chapel walls on the first floor, including “Man’s anger does not accomplish God’s justice.

Year-round the chateau is filled with the amazing arrangements of Jean-François Boucher. They are always perfection and are an integral part of what keeps the chateau and its history alive for visitors. You can follow his work on Instagram.


Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog





The line of ladies of Chenonceau continued when Louise de Lorraine withdrew to mourn her husband, King Henri III, to this room on the top floor in 1589. With black walls adorned with the symbols of mourning and dark textiles, Louise would have glowed in royal white mourning clothes in this room. While hers was the last royal residence of the chateau, the line of women mistresses continued even through the World Wars when Chenonceau played an important role as a hospital.





Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Here I promised myself that I would offer a visual tour of our time at Chenonceau and not go into too much written detail! But I love this place and its history is such a fascinating and important part of its soul.

If you can, plan your visit to the chateau so as to finish in the dying light of the day before you leave. The magic of the windows spilling golden light onto the gardens and river is not to be missed! Like being able to peek in to see the household of Catherine de Medici bustling around preparing for the evening meal to be laid. The past still lives here.

Chateau de Chenonceau - Loire Valley, France - egg & dart blog

Chateau de Chenonceau

open year round with special decorations for the holiday season



Vintage French Jam Jars at Brocante Moderne
design, Life, Styling

Brocante Moderne


I opened my first Etsy shop, Gloaming Designs, in 2007. Looking back at the date just now, that feels both a long time ago and like yesterday! I filled it with special pieces I hand-crafted from vintage and reused materials as well as fun vintage finds. Looking back through the sold listings is a bit like remembering old friends.

Vintage French Butter Papers at Brocante Moderne

Behind the scenes I have been working hard on a new incarnation of that shop: a new space filled with the best of the treasures I love seeking out in the French brocantes (flea markets). So I’m very excited to announce: Brocante Moderne is open!

Vintage French Soup Plates at Brocante Moderne

What you’ll find is a curated selection of vintage French pieces that I adore (seriously, it’s so hard to say goodbye to these!) and that mix perfectly into the modern home.

Vintage French Kitchen Towels at Brocante Moderne

Functional, beautiful, and unique, I believe that every home needs some pieces that tell a story all their own, that have a soul.

Vintage French Etchings at Brocante Moderne

And that’s my design philosophy: that the old, worn, and storied should live alongside the simple and clean-lined modern for a home that isn’t like any other. A home that is you. That is why the shop is named Brocante Moderne – a place to find the world of the brocante curated for your modern life.

Vintage French Marquetry Box at Brocante Moderne

There will be new additions regularly so check back often and sign up for the mailing list here to hear all the latest news and special offers. You can access the shop here or through Etsy (they share the same inventory so you won’t miss anything going to one versus the other). You can even click on any of this post’s pictures to go directly to their listing.

Vintage French Jam Jars at Brocante Moderne

I hope you enjoy and let me know if there is anything you’d like me to keep my eyes open for on my next trip to the brocante!



Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog
Art, design, Visiting France

Visiting Le Chateau de Malmaison

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

May was full of not only long weekends here in France, but a strange mix of weather highs and lows. The weekend of (American) Mother’s Day corresponded to a summery high that made you feel like you were on vacation in your own town. I had wanted to visit Josephine Bonaparte’s home at Malmaison for a few years but the timing was never right – Malmaison is known for its roses and I really wanted to visit when they were in bloom. Unfortunately, we were a mere two weeks early for the roses that weekend but that didn’t bother us in the least because what we discovered was a fascinating building surrounded by wildflower lawns and bordered by a beautiful bois (wood).

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

The Chateau de Malmaison is not big like Versailles or perfectly conserved like Chenonceau but what makes it worth a trip is its visitable size (you aren’t completely exhausted by the end) and its fascinating history. Many chateaux in France are furnished as they may have been or were during the French renaissance or before but the Bonapartes’ chateau is from a much younger period and one that you don’t often see in such a context. Bought by Josephine while Napoleon was in Egypt, the chateau was decorated almost completely around the theme of military campaigns (albeit, the very rich and fashionable version) and classical and Egyptian motifs. This influence is in every detail – the arrow shaped curtain rods, the x-benches used throughout, the striped wall hangings – but what I found most striking were the wonderful and saturated color combinations in so many rooms.

On the first floor, one of the first rooms you visit is the billiard room which happened to be my favorite palette in the house – that wonderful verdigris green contrasted with the vibrant orange. Then the music room with cobalt blue walls lined with saturated red upholstered furniture trimmed with black. And everywhere, even on Josephine’s harp, the military detailing.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

On the other end of the first floor, past the dining room, are Napoleon’s council room and library where the military imagery is on full display, the council room being swathed in draped striped fabric to mimic a military tent ornamented with regal eagles, lions, and mythical creatures.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

When Napoleon and Josephine divorced, she kept Malmaion and lived there until her death. The upper floor is a mix of rooms that show her softer, simpler style and spaces that were converted to exhibition rooms after the house became a museum. On display are stunning collections of hand-painted china she commissioned displaying scenes of Egypt, artworks she collected from both classical and contemporary artists, and David’s original painting of Napoleon Crossing the Alps (originally commissioned by the King of Spain, four versions were eventually made).

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

The gardens around the chateau were converted to the English style by Josephine and remain beautifully simple and natural, much of the lawns being taken over by wildflowers. The gardens are also home to some remarkable trees, brought back from Napoleon’s travels.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog IMG_9582 Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

While the Chateau de Malmaison is not the grandest castle, it is worth the visit on a longer trip to France for the uniqueness of its story and interiors. Access is very easy and parking is right next to the castle. But be sure to plan some time to visit the Bois-Pr√©au next to it, planning a lunch picnic there is a great idea, because it will only add to the enchantment of the visit which truely feels like you’ve escaped Paris for the afternoon. Oh, be sure to take the well-done audio guide that is included in the price of admission. Although, you may be required to share as Romain was!


Chateau de Malmasion and Bois-Préau

Avenue du ch√Ęteau de Malmaison
92500 Rueil-Malmaison



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, √Člie’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 D√ľrer 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 √Člie’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 √Člie’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‚ā¨ 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.



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:



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 √Člie 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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.



design, Life, Our Home

Our Home – The Living Room

The living room is literally and figuratively the center of our home. We spend the majority of our time there during the day – eating, playing, using the computer, reading – though our bedrooms find us hanging out together fairly often as well. Small spaces have no wasted space! But this room is in between our two bedrooms and across the narrow hall from the kitchen. This set-up has been perfect for a busy mama because I can be working in the kitchen and see my little love playing in the living room with just a glance.

Like our bedroom, this room has a marble chimney mantle but it also has beautiful molding on the ceiling and paneling on the lower half of the walls. These elements were exactly what we had hoped for when we were looking for our next apartment as the studio was in a building from the 60’s or 70’s and had a very different feeling. We got so lucky finding a space with so much built-in personality! Here was the blank slate moving in (quick iphone snaps):

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From the start, I knew getting the layout of this room right would be critical to efficient use of the space but also our enjoyment of it. One can’t relax in a small space that doesn’t also function well. Maximizing storage and using it in a smart, accessible way has meant that we are encouraged to tidy up because it is easy to do with open storage in pretty baskets and easy to get at sliding drawers. But it has taken us a while to get where we are today because so much of what we needed we had to tweak or build custom to fit the space. The evolution has been slow. We started with a big futon for a couch and a tiny garden table for a dining table. Before the kitchen was workable (no counter, no cabinets, bring your own appliances which is the norm here), I even had our Ikea island set up as a sort of breakfast bar in the corner.


Here you can see the stove when it arrived and the inspector checked it over (apparently pregnant girls aren’t supposed to move stoves by themselves? Or at all? hmm.) but also the little garden table in the background. It was our first dining table when we lived in a tiny one room apartment together in Grenoble for a few months so there are some sweet memories attached to it.


This corner has definitely been the focus of our DIY efforts in this room. I knew from the start I wanted to do a banquette in that corner with a pedestal table for easy sliding in and out. We haven’t found our dream pedestal table yet but when I found this old one for 30‚ā¨ online, I sent R over to get it as a stand-in. It has been actually great for √Člie because his little highchair can attach to it and the wood only gets more character with each mark. Here you can see when we first moved the table in and I had taped out the banquette dimensions on the floor to get a feel for them:


(Rogue cat tail)

Our computer was set up on a little wood desk that belonged to Romain’s grandmother but the mess of cords and other supplies was obviously not working.


We measured and planned out a continuous computer desk and L-shaped banquette for a unified look but it required custom pieces that we built over time. This first step, though, was a huge one in terms of improving storage and function! Here we installed the first Besta units and the wall of shelving:


The drawers of the desk unit hold our DVDs and office supplies with the Playstation above on one side and a pull-out tablet for the keyboard and mouse on the other. Below that the printer and other computer gadgets are hidden behind one door and our board games behind the other. The banquette, it probably won’t come as a surprise, is all dishware and ktichenware storage. And here is where we are today with this corner!

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We built two corner boxes to complete the L-banquette and faced them and the side of the banquette with more of the same style doors from the Besta range. Then we raised the bookshelves on a custom built box to make them the same height as the corner shelves on the other side of the door, where the breakfast buffet had been for a time.


This side of the room is the really ‘living’ part of the living room with the couch and chair. I’m planning a slipcover for the little sofa but just tucked the vintage linen around it for the time being. And the wooden desk was moved to this side of the room for lighting and it now holds the stereo as well.

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We keep √Člie’s toys in the baskets under the table and not only are they easy for him to get at, it is quick to scoop the toys into at the end of the day and have it not look like a toy warehouse. The poster above the couch is Fathom’s All Streets map that I gave to Romain a few years ago for his birthday. It is beautiful and a wonderful quality and I can’t wait to get it in a frame (and center it on the couch).

The mantle has been a joy to get to play with! It has evolved countless time already! This past weekend, I brought clippings of branches (here hazelnut) from our trip to Belgium just for this spot. I have been wanting to do this for at least a year!

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And this is the beautiful antique faux bamboo high chair we bought before √Člie was born. He’ll use it someday soon (and after I retrofit it with a harness) but for the moment we opted for a clip-on high chair to save precious floor space. It has been a perfect solution (you can see it on the table two images above this one) and traveling with it has been a breeze too! If you need a clip on high chair, this one is the Lobster from Phil & Ted.

There is still so much to do in this room but we love being in here anyway. Some things on our list are installing a toe-kick on the banquette/desk, finding two storage ottomans in place of a coffee table, replacing a little side table on the bookshelf side of the couch, sewing the couch slipcover, making cushions for the banquette, hemming the curtains and putting them on curtain rings, finding a rug that works in this space for in front of the couch, properly framing the collage over the banquette and the poster over the couch, and possibly replacing or refinishing the armchair (another steal of a stand-in at 12‚ā¨!), among other little tweaks. Ekk, I had better not look at that list for too long.

Next week I’ll be taking a break from the apartment tour for a few other fun posts and then we’ll pick back up with the last, much smaller, rooms: kitchen, bath, and hall/entry. But here’s a sneak peek for next week from instagram!

Hallerbos Bluebells | egg & dart blog



P.S. I had really wanted to have this post ready for Monday, while we were away, and I worked hard last Thursday to get everything ready but at midnight, when I was transferring my photos, I clicked too fast, thought I had saved but hadn’t, and permanently deleted all my images. Learn from me: back-up all your files! Ugh.

design, Life, Our Home

Our Home – √Člie’s Room

I would have loved to nest by feathering my baby’s room while I was baking √Člie instead of the frantic box rummaging and resulting apartment tetrus I was actually doing. But timing had other ideas. Thank God for Pinterest, huh? At least I could scheme a while. The smallest of the three rooms (our bedroom, living room, √Č’s room) bore the brunt of the burden when we moved in. No immediate place for it? Baby’s room. So these before pictures are going to be very frightening. You’ve been warned! (All iphone pictures here)


This snap of the empty room will give you the best sense of its dimensions: the door opens flush against the left wall into a long and somewhat narrow room. The next image is half-way through moving day, when things started to go downhill.


And then, the really scary part.



It was terrifying, but apparently only to me and R. Someone else up there thought it was the best personal playground a cat could dream of! I almost felt bad for him as I started to move things around and get rid of things. Almost. From that point I worked really hard to make the piles go down but I was still digging when √Člie arrived.

Over time, the room evolved as family came for a visit or I set up a make-shift office. But it was always with piles disguised as side tables or not disguised at all. I can’t find any pictures of that interim time but I’m pretty sure you’re not missing much.

Finally, around his nine month birthday, we managed to make enough of a room of it that we could put the little one to sleep in his own space without feeling like we were putting him in a storage room for the night. I just couldn’t do that, you know what I mean? More baby steps have brought it to where it is today and I have to say, even unfinished, I love being in this room. Here is our √Člie’s room as it is now (again, many of these are quick iphone snaps of a tidied but not styled room!):

√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog √Člie's Room | egg & dart blog

As you can see, someone was busy at work over in his reading corner as I snuck these pictures!

√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog √Člie's Room | egg & dart blog√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog(A TSA officer in Boston gave √Č that badge sticker for one of his first flights and I had to keep it. I didn’t think they gave out wings or badges anymore!)

I love the cosy reading corner. I imagine curling up with √Člie here when he is a bit older to read before bed or even just finding him there himself – he loves books! As with everything you see here, it is a project half done. We’ve just recently finished installing the shelves but really I’ll have to take them back down at some point to paint them white. They are recycled from our studio apartment and here against the pale gray, their color is driving me nuts. As for the corner itself, that great appliqu√© pillow is an old Hmong baby carrier I ordered from Etsy and sewed into a pillow case. I find the colors and stitching fascinating, imagining who made it, what they were thinking of as they stitched, and who was carried inside. More and larger pillows will join it along with a floor cushion but for now I tossed down things I have.

√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog √Člie's Room | egg & dart blog √Člie's Room | egg & dart blog

The opposite wall has two dressers pushed together with lots of clothes storage and a picture ledge that had been in our room holds some stuffed toys above. He points to the ones he wants and they are always hopping on and off that shelf! The framed pjs on the right are the ones he wore to come home from the hospital with a pair of little handknit socks. I used to knit pairs of baby socks while imagining who he would be as I took the bus for my (many, many) third trimester check-ups. The ‘buttons’ are vintage wooden bingo chips with the date of his birth 12*26*13.

The dressers are a funny story: I had seen the black one for a great price at the local thrift store and we thought it would be a good placeholder until we could save for the double dresser we really want. A couple months later I found the same dresser at the same thrift store, only in a natural wood finish! Ideally I would paint them both black (they are nothing expensive and a little beat up) but we are still planning on the dream dresser so I haven’t taken the time to do it…yet. Next to the dresser is a camp stool with a basket to hold the stroller’s accessories (rain cover, adapters, etc.) and two hook rails behind the door hold his coats and jackets and our sling.

√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog

This is our little spot in the evenings. Usually, Papa reads to him and then I nurse √Člie. He loves watching that star hanging above us and it’s one of the first baby sign-language signs he worked on, signing star every night after I lay him in the crib. The armchair wasn’t meant for his room but I needed something comfortable for all the night nursings and so we moved this one in here. I’m not sure yet if it will eventually go back in the living room or stay here.

√Člie's room | egg & dart blog This last and least scenic view is the wardrobe next to the doorway. I’m still looking for handles I love (something vintage?) but this storage is our saving grace!

I think you will agree, the room is night and day from where it started but there are still plenty of things I’ve got on my list to finish. My initial color inspiration came from this luscious picture from Pure Vegetarian blog:

Citrus | Pure Vegetarian Blog

So using that as a rough jumping off point, here is a little idea board of where the room could end up:

√Člie's Room | egg & dart blog

crib dresser rug lamp – star light (Ikea holiday) – fern imagestring lightsHmong pillow cover

We already have the star light, crib, pillow, and the large painting, a cloud and beach painting done by my uncle who was a wonderful artist. I can’t wait to manage to get it across the ocean to hang in here!

The perfect curtain fabric was given to us by my father who has been holding on to it for a while, leftover from a client project. Blue Brunchswig & Fils “Sea Coral” that I’ve only cut into panels and need to line and hem.

This is the dresser we are aiming for. It has such simple, classic lines and I know we would use it for years to come.

The rug that I tossed down in his room is too small and too dark, I’d love this one in a larger size to have a great play space!

Then we need to layer in some turquoise and orange splashes to bring in the color inspiration. This lamp is along the lines of what I’d like to find but I need something that isn’t too breakable in case it gets knocked off its perch.

Gosh I would love to be able to pull this room together right. now! Patience, Abigail. How about a little tour of the living room next week? This room, along with the kitchen, has been the focus of most of our DIY attention over the past year!

Living room light | egg & dart blog



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design, Life

Our Home – The Bedroom

While grand compared to the studio apartment we lived in previously, our current two-bedroom apartment is not huge and lacks the two floor to ceiling closets we had in the entry of our studio as well as the basement storage room. In fact, this apartment came with nearly zero storage. When we moved in there was only the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Not shocking given this building was built at the turn of the century but what it meant was that we had to change our “oh just put it in the closet and we’ll deal with it later” ways and not only pare down but be as inventive as possible to create function from just four walls.

For the past year and a half I’ve almost always had a bag hanging around being (not so slowly) filled with things I wanted g.o.n.e. It turns out that it is rather addictive. But I’ve been so grateful for it because I’m thrilled that we are getting into this mindful habit at this point in our lives. I feel like it will make it much easier to stay in the habit through the years to come. I’ll talk more about what I’ve learned from the experience another day because I don’t know about you but I find it fascinating!

Despite those challenges, we adore our home here! It fits us nearly perfectly, perfectly for our lives right now, and that makes us so lucky. So with that little bit of background about the challenges we’ve tackled since moving in, I want to introduce you to the space, where it started and where it is now and where I’m headed with it. Starting with our bedroom.

Our bedroom is the largest of the apartment’s rooms. While it may have been better to have the largest room be the living/dining space, the apartment is laid out off a long central hallway with the two bedrooms and the living room on one side (exterior side) and the kitchen and bathroom on the other (interior side). The kitchen and living room are roughly in the center and facing each other so the rooms at either end of the hall (on either side of the living room) are our bedrooms.

Since this apartment is older, we really lucked out and have marble mantles in our room and the living, hardwood floors, high ceilings, and wonderful moldings on the living room ceiling. Here is the bedroom empty before we moved it. We’ll have to make due with iphone images because I was too busy trying to find things in boxes to really document each room (also, we left for a two and a half week vacation one day after moving).

bedroom before bedroom before

These are standing in the doorway and the corner opposite the fireplace, respectively. There is really only one obvious place for the bed to go, along that wall to the left in the first image.

Since move-in day we’ve come a long way and this room is the closest to being done. I’ve been very careful about what I’ve added in here because it has had such a calm, unfussy, and comfortable feeling since we first moved in and so little was actually in the room that I’ve wanted to preserve that. Here is where it is today and keep in mind, these are progress shots and cleaned-up but not styled. My lens isn’t right to capture wide shots of the space so these are a mix of iphone and camera shots.

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Walking in the door, you see the fireplace (love the black marble) in the corner of the room and Romain’s guitars hanging on the wall to the right. This is the wall we see when we’re in bed and I love it. Before he got his electric guitar, we had a longer picture ledge on the bottom with the long narrow framed etching that is now on the mantle balancing out the smaller upper ledge. We replaced it with a second short ledge when the second guitar arrived and it is loaded with images from some of our favorite places (my hometown, the Louvre, Yosemite and Muir Woods from our honeymoon). Combined with the guitars, it may just be the wall that is the most representative of us in the whole apartment. (Also, that is Albert’s basket you see there on the low cabinets, where he snores away the night!)

bedroom progress

Turning to the left, our bed takes up the opposite wall with a dresser and a large Ikea PAX unit on the adjoining walls.

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My side of the bed has a thrift store table for a nightstand and a little corner for a chair. I have plans for another chair to live here once it is refinished. I need to reinforce my nightable though as you can see it is listing a bit to the side (which is less evident in real life than in the picture). But is survives the cat tromping on it so it is at least that sturdy.

bedroom progress

Taking up the wall next to my side of the bed is the PAX wardrobe. I made a sort of ‘crown’ for it to hold a hidden curtain rod (no space for doors to swing) and tossed it up there but ideally it would have some simple crown molding attached and be painted white. I’ll start with just painting it and sewing a curtain for it rather than that linen sheet and we’ll see from there. Also, that laundry bucket has got to go!

bedroom progress bedroom progress bedroom progress

Romain’s night table stumped me for a while. He (strangely) needs more night table storage than I do and it also had to be something that would let us open the dresser drawers. One day I screwed this leftover wooden drawer set to the wall and it is kind of perfect in terms of function. I need to think of a way to dress it up and finish it though because it’s completely raw. He also has the dresser on his side of the room with a lamp I wired from an old glass jug.

There isn’t a ton left to do in this room but there are still some important details left to pull it all together and make it sing. Here are some of the images I have been going back to for inspiration for the feeling of this space:

bedroom-inspiration1. 2. 3. 4.

Simple, clean, unfussy, airy, and warm with a mix of natural textures and more polished ones, old pieces and new, black and off white with our signature greens and blues – a retreat from the city outside. The rooms here were freshly painted a barely there gray right before we moved it, that was a stroke of luck! I’ve just recently ordered this piece of fabric from Etsy for the bed cushion and Romain said it looks like it’s always been here. A vote for perfect fit if ever I heard one! I just need to sew it (it’s simply wrapped around the pillow here).

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Then the head board needs to be made. It will be a simple clean-lined rectangle covered in the same natural linen as the bedskirt – another brocante find. To give you an idea of the texture, here is an extreme close-up:

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Then I have a fun plan for a big statement above the mantle which I’m keeping under my hat but here’s the inspiration (in the background), from the incomparable Lauren Liess:


After that it is finishing details: lining and hemming the curtains, installing the rings and clips on the curtain rods, tweaking art on the bed wall, sewing the curtain for the PAX and painting its crown, and installing reading lights on either side of the bed, maybe these:


That’s where we are with the bedroom. It doesn’t sound like a lot to finish but our hands are busy chasing after this little assistant! I’ll introduce his room next week.