Life, Night Au Musée

2017

egg & dart blog

The weekend before last we went to the Louvre. If you’ve stuck with me this long, you might remember that we went all the time before parenthood changed our schedules. We had the amazing annual membership for those up to 30 years old (if you live in Paris and that description fits you, get it!) and we would meet after work for the Friday late night openings and just wander.

Musée du Louvre - egg & dart blog

The year I was pregnant with Élie was the same year they held the campaign to raise funds for the restoration of Winged Victory, my favorite sculpture, and, as you could donate in someone else’s name, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to donate in the new a baby’s name!” But É was due in January and we didn’t even know that he would be É since we were waiting to find out the baby’s sex.

I waited until that last minute anyway. Just in case. And what do you know, the baby was in a rush and made December 26th his birthday! So his first action on Earth (after stealing our hearts) was to help, in a small way, preserve that statue for many more years of visitors to one of our favorite places and I really, really love that. But we had never gotten to go see it with him and see the work that was done. We finally checked that off the list two Sundays past.

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I’ve started to feel an intense necessity to do all those things we haven’t done yet here or try all those restaurants I follow on Instagram or go back to our favorite spots in the city for a visit because 2017 is taking us away from Paris and into the south. We are moving! Sooner than R expected, MUCH sooner than I expected. I could write quite a bit about how being an expat has been for me, my love/hate (sometimes really hate) relationship with this city that everyone else seems to have stars in their eyes about, and how wrenching it feels to finally be leaving it but I will save that for some other posts, because it does bear talking about.

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A Eugène Isabey painting from a 2012 exhibit* – olive trees like those covering the South of France

The past month or so was been a blur of trying to wrap my head around this, a job interview for R, thinking, talking, thinking more, holidays, visiting our new city, Montpellier, scouting places to live, negotiations for a rental, prepping for and hosting visits of our current apartment, coordinating moving company quotes, and I don’t even remember what else. We’re sad to leave this little apartment that we love in a suburb we finally felt home in but come late February we will be starting a whole new adventure of living in a small village near Montpellier in the south and renting a whole and entire HOUSE! I haven’t lived in a single family house since I was two. Those are things we are pretty excited about! So while we try to soak up every second we can here, I’m also dreaming of spreading out in my own space for a studio/office in the new home. And I’m looking forward to sharing all those fun new things here on the blog come spring.

So cheers 2017, let’s make it a good one! I have so many thoughts and dreams to turn into plans but for now I’m wishing you all the best of years and hoping you’ll spend some of it following along here as we set off into new waters!

xo,

A.

  • You can read a bit about the Eugène Isabey exhibit here (my blog) & here (in French).

 

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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!

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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?

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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. 😉

xo,

A.

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

Brocante Moderne

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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!

xo,

A.

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French Potager - egg & dart blog
Life, outside

The Edge of a New Season -Yvonne’s Garden

French Potager - egg & dart blog

The seasons are turning. But I guess I should start with Hello! How have you been? It always feels overwhelming how much there is to catch up on but let’s say that here we have been busy loving a bright baby boy turned toddler, spending time with loved ones and friends, and just generally working at the great balancing act of life. Ya know?

French Potager - egg & dart blog

But the seasons are turning now, outside and at home. My little love has started his first year of preschool. He is a bit past 2 1/2 years old and that feels oh so very young to me but now, in the third (fourth? I’m forgetting already!) week I am finally picking up a smiling boy at lunchtime instead of a devastated one. It feels both amazing (chunks of free time to get things done!) and heart-wrenching (my baby-who-will-always-be-my-baby, isn’t a baby anymore).

French Potager - egg & dart blog

But these new free mornings! Oh do I have big plans.  I am nothing if not overambitious with my to-do lists. And I can’t wait to share more on those plans very soon. First, though, I wanted to share my dusk walk through my mother-in-law’s garden, one of the first of many more moments to come I hope of re-tending that creative spark.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

Motherhood brings so many things into sharp focus (and others are thrown out of field), perhaps none of these being more evident to me now than my absolute need for the natural world. To see it, to study it, to be near it, to be inspired by it. I need nothing more than 5 minutes and my camera in the garden to let my mind go and my creative instinct out. So here’s to more inspiration, and passions, and adventures coming up! Enjoy a little peek into the potager.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

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French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

xo,

A.

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Life

Sancerre in the Fall – Fields of Golden Vines

É in the country | egg & dart blog

Hello again! It seems I haven’t mastered the working/being a mama with baby at home/having a life balance yet. Has anyone? Ha! But that seems like a post for another day. I wanted to pop in with a couple glimpses of the beautiful Sancerre region of France I took this weekend because, well, how could I not share this?!

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Creek adventuring with Papa | egg & dart blog

We went for what felt like a super short visit to R’s grandparents because usually we get to take advantage of a long weekend at this time of year as November 1st (All Soul’s Day) is still a work holiday for a lot of French people but this year both Halloween and All Soul’s fell on the weekend. Dart! But we had two frankly balmy (near 70°F!) days and we tried to soak up those views as much as possible.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

We also climbed to the attic and investigated some of R’s old toys for É which was so sweet – like opening a time capsule that, I’m sure, feels like it was just yesterday for both of us. This little guy was quickly adopted and I love his glowing red wheels with the pumpkins in this shot.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

Despite it being only two days, we managed to squeeze in a bit of adventuring an visiting new-to-me places and seeing them in another light for R. The country roads – I don’t even know how to resist wanting to see what is just around every bend!

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

Sunday afternoon ended on the hillside among the vineyards looking back at the town of Sancerre as the evening’s shadow swept over it. It changes so fast at that time of day but for a few brief minutes, the fields turned an almost iridescent violet that I would have loved to drink in for a while. I only caught the tail end of it here.

Sancerre Autumn | egg & dart blog

There are even more images over on instagram because of course I couldn’t help from overgramming.

Here’s to November! I can’t believe it is here. But I’m trying to get myself into the holiday season gear because here it comes!!

xo,

A.

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Friday Postcard, Life, Our Home

Friday Postcard

Chive Blossom | egg & dart blog

It’s been too hot to think, and by extension, to blog. Several days hovering around 100°F and I hope the end is in sight for next week. In any case, it has been great for my cooking creativity and I’ve came up with a few make-ahead, serve cold meals that have refreshed and consoled us after scorching days. I’m planning on sharing one of my favorites on Monday!

The heat has also been great for the windowsill garden which I shade everyday with a kind of homemade plant tent. The biggest problem I’ve had over these past years living on the 6th and, now, 3rd floors is that the sun and wind currents just turn the soil to dust in no time. This year I decided to shade my plant babies on the hottest days and it’s been working wonderfully! Everything is growing in leaps by the day and I’m afraid they’ll just go right to bolting if we can’t eat them fast enough. It’s so amazing how much you can get out of such a small surface area.

I hope you’re staying cool where ever you are and happy Friday!

xo,

A.

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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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