the work’s in progress

hi guys and thank you! i don’t know how to explain what your comments on the last post meant to me. your insights into what a home means, its reflection of the mind of the inhabitant, the feng shui of it giving as much to you as you giving it, the power of a friend who lends a hand…

well, it’s amazing what a difference a few days can make. to recap: sunday night i posted pic of my disasterous apartment, knowing  if i did, i’d be forced to do something about it.  i took them down a couple hours later, devastated that my home was as one blogger put it, ‘depressing’,  but as she also said, i’d outed myself and by then it was too late and i had to make a move. what working on it has done for me is immeasurable and even though it’s not finished, it’s given me a  jumpoff to continue my design expression, and a new love for a place i thought i couldn’t stand another day.

the entire incident was prompted simultaneously by liz and the site, design sherpa. liz has been antsy to decorate and DS offered me a chance to go to the next round in a contest if i shot a 3 minute video on design. when i told liz we could do my apartment, she took my minute of motivation and pushed me forward.

she did for me what i can do for others but never seem to do for myself and stuck by me like glue for the past 3 days. to say liz is as busy as i am is an understatement but over the years i’ve helped her and she said she owed me. go figure!

so i took her help and ran with it. our first stop was getting design inspiration. she forced me to go where i would normally not: pottery barn and west elm! the goal was to use what i already had and only add accents.  my first purchase and only real splurge was an enormous white lacquer tray for the ottoman at west elm.

we both love white pottery, especially tubs and pitchers, but i never indulge in my own decor. we filed these under ‘wait till ikea’ and headed to home depot.

it’s not officially my apartment so i had to think of it like my guy would and not go too girly so we used natural bark, bamboo, hemp, wovens, dark woods and plants to get started.

my home depot splurge was on two topiaries, going against everything i just said, but how could i resist?

the process has taught me is something i forgot: that your home has to be functional for you as well as nurturing. getting herbs like basil, lavender, rosemary, parsley and tomatoes not only smell great but are inspiring me to cook!

and finding a box of succulents was a cherry on top and prompted me to create my own living wall. our next stop was ikea where we found these great pieces to get it going. it’s on the ‘to do’ list but i’ve got enough covered that projects like this are now a pleasure and i can take my time and tackle it on a rainy day.

the plants have brought instant sunshine and joy into the apartment.

no wonder they say people who have plants live longer. i hope i can keep them happy and tend to each of  their delicate demands, like submerging the bonsai to water it…

i really haven’t  ‘decorated’, it was enough to just get the lights, floors and windows covered and we took what i already had and tried to work it in. i have the rest of my life to style it!

as for the hard work: we got the plants, paint and palm sander in on sunday night after our home depot run. my first project monday morning was to tackle the table which was the hideous elephant in the room. not only was it orangey wood, but against the pergo floor it was absolutely revolting and the mental block i couldn’t get past to even start this project for so many years. i put on my bikini, took a slug of water and started sanding.  i wanted to give up half way into it cause it was exhausting and uneven but somehow pushed through. we chose an ebony stain and now we love the dang thing!

everything after that seemed easy! liz insisted on painting so we did one of the walls dove gray and the kitchen bar in  gunmetal.

i did the taping and clean up. go team.

this is one of the pics posted on sunday. it’s not finished (i still have to tackle the front door), but at least i can look at the tv without falling into a deep depression!

the sconces just in from paris will  probably move to the bedroom (or sell)! but for now i’m enjoying them and will keep an eye out for something. which leads me to the second revelation i had during this process:  the creativity that decorating feeds when you’re out in the world is massive soul food!  it’s fun to shop for your home, and a pleasure i haven’t indulged in for many years, always on the go with one foot out the door.

ok shield your eyes, below is the pic from sunday that i had to remove. you can see the orange table and my so called life in all is glorious disarray.

yikes! it’s still unfinished but i can sit in the room without fear and loathing. it’s now a place that’s in development. when jw is here, he sits at the table so the chair has to stay but i got a corner unit for the printer and stereo from ikea that’s waiting to be built by the pros on the 30th. he likes a corner lamp so the halogen is upstairs and replaced by this little number from target. i also got him a giant money tree for good luck which brings me to another point: it’s fun to think of someone else when you’re decorating and do the things you know will inspire them! ps that corner is going to totally transform so don’t look too close or under the table! the chandelier is also just in from paris and although it’s not right for the room, it’s up so i can work on restringing the crystals and bringing it back to life.

the sofa was a little small and not too cute.

but taking off the back pillow,  adding sheepskins and the tray to the ottoman,  curtains and new pillows, it’s now super cozy!

and to say the kitchen was bleak is being very kind. but the plants, an herb garden window box, new cabinet handles, cutting boards, stainless trash can, clock,  and white pitchers to hold dishsoap, paper towels and gasp, flowers! has transformed it completely. liz donated her two stools, painted the bar and got me to bed bath and beyond which led me to my next revelation. she reminded me that i used to be the ‘smoothie queen’ and insisted that if i only got one appliance, it should be a blender. adding things that are commonplace to any kitchen (but not mine) was a real eye opener and i can’t wait to earn my reputation back.

ok well it’s a rainy day so i don’t mind saying i don’t mind staying home to re-pot plants, clean up and see where we are.  this may be my longest post ever but now i’m on a roll and am inspired to tackle the bath and boudoir next. thanks again for your insights and support, i wouldn’t be on this path without you!

September 23, 2010. Decorating, Florida.


  1. Petit replied:

    WOW! A fab place you have! who can say no to lavender – especially when it’s gonna bloom? :o) i’ve fallen in love with your chandelier and i think it suits perfectly!


  2. theparisapartment replied:

    Thank you, that made me feel great! i’m coming to visit right now :)


  3. yvonne replied:

    WOW What a wonderful difference.
    God Bless the Apt and you my Dear.
    Best of luck



  4. Splendid Sass replied:

    Yay! Yay! Yay! Are you sure that is the same place. Whew, what a difference a day makes! Great job. I know that you feel great about this.
    Have a nice day, and congratulations!


  5. theparisapartment replied:

    thanks girls! yeah, it’s ridiculous really. such deep changes on so many levels, just from decorating. i forgot how into it i really am and enjoying being in the middle of it all!


  6. Tracie~My Petite Maison replied:

    Hi Claudia,
    I’m sorry I missed the post on Sunday but love the fact that you were honest and let folks know how it really looked… for reals, that takes a lot of guts! I think we all wish we lived in an environment right out of a magazine but it’s not true if you have a real life going on… sometimes it will be messy, other times beautiful. I love what you’re doing with your apt and that it’s a work in progress. We didn’t work on our backyard for almost 5 years too (real work that is), it felt to good once I admitted it on my blog too. In seeing your kitchen, there is hope for my tiny kitchen too.


    • theparisapartment replied:

      it took guts and an altered state of mind! one thing about the blog is that it has kept me focused and honest with myself. it’s good to hear you’re working on your yard, i guess when the time comes we’ll step up but until then, nothing could have made it happen. i’m glad today’s the day!


  7. Carey S. replied:

    your apartment looks soooo much better! whew! creating a space that you can live in happily and love those little treasures you surround yourself with is beyond words. great job!


    • theparisapartment replied:

      thanks, carey. now i have the space to enjoy living with those little treasures you mentioned instead of putting them away for ‘someday’!


  8. Miss Amy replied:

    i LOVE the greenery!!! Lord knows we have enough of it in Miami! Congrats on getting the motivation to spruce up your place….I’m unfortunately a few steps behind you. But you’ve inspired me! I need more living plants in my home. Thanks for being so open. It helps ME more than you know :)


    • theparisapartment replied:

      i’m so glad to hear that miss amy and can’t wait to see what you do. hope you get some miami greens for starters!


  9. le petit cabinet de curiosites replied:

    What a wonderful work you did. It looks fabulous.


  10. Kate replied:

    Wonder Women! You done good! Really, I mean it, amazing. And you’ve filled your well. You’ll have so much more to give. I’m curious about the budget. I’ll bet that would be an inspiration too. I’ve had the plant thing on my list as well. At one point I said I wanted something living in each room (had some fish). Looks really great.


    • theparisapartment replied:

      hi kate, filling your well is a great way to put it. as for the budget, i spent the least for the best. not too many splurges but not holding back either. i spent about $900 for the paint, curtains, plants, orchids, planters, rugs, art, tools, rods, clock, trashcan, blender, baskets, pillows and corner unit.
      i love your idea about having something living in each room and will take that to heart and incorporate it. i did get a tiny orchid for the bathroom that changed everything!


  11. Jade replied:

    Congratulations on claiming your space! I love it; it’s looking great. Keep on goin’!
    xoxo- Jade


    • theparisapartment replied:

      thanks jade, it’s fun to do the little things, like getting pretty fruit for the bowl or just keeping it neat. i have a raison d’etre!


  12. Cris replied:

    Aaack! And by ‘depressing’ I meant ‘not reflective of your spirit in anyway’ and only in the most supportive, speaking honestly but tactfully, hoping to be inspiring kind of way.

    You know what I mean. Not an insult.

    Wish I could be there at Vignettes in San Diego. I love that store and would love to get to meet you there, but I only get out there from Chicago once a year. Vignettes is my reward for visiting my in-laws. Oh! And their design aesthetic involves Star Trek figurines hanging from Christmas lights threaded through the acoustic tile drop ceiling. So. That’s depressing. And I mean that one in a non-supportive way.

    Love what you’ve done. You deserve a great space!


    • theparisapartment replied:

      hi chris
      hi chris, you inspired me more than you will ever know. i took your comment not as criticism but it was the catalyst for my wake up call. believe me, i appreciate it and by the way, you were beyond tactful.
      oh, on another note…my mom has the starship enterprise hanging on her tree every year!


  13. Nita@ModVintageLife replied:

    The apartment is looking great. I saw the photos when you posted and thought…”Oh..My…I wonder if she is ok?” So I’m happy to see you are working on getting your space together even if you are too busy with other things. You need to do for yourself just as you do for others.

    But I’m afraid that boyfriend’s chair….has to go. It is hideous. Love the mercury glass lamp though.


    • theparisapartment replied:

      amazing how i just let it go and didn’t care. what a weird state of mind. guess that’s what living on the go has done to me. i couldn’t set down roots for myself or even plants!
      thanks for the ok to ditch the bf’s chair. can’t wait! i’m looking for something cool to replace it now ;)


  14. Acquired Objects replied:

    I saw your depressing little apartment the other night and thought why would she want to come home to that? So rather then depress you more I said nothing. But I have to say you’re making your apartment a beautiful home, a place that is more welcoming and has warmth, I’m loving what you’re doing. My hat’s off to both you and Liz, you both worked hard and it shows!Bravo to Liz for getting you moving!


  15. theparisapartment replied:

    omg i actually got choked up reading your comments just now. thank you guys for caring and sharing in this with me!


  16. lancerika replied:

    The most wonderful *inspiraton*
    got you douce non?
    what a trasformation!
    your chandelier light glows
    like the *lune pleine* tonite!!


  17. Linda replied:

    All I can say is Wow! It looks fabulous. Wish I could get my place in order too. You have inspired me.


  18. Leslie replied:

    I LOVE your blog and am inspired by the fact that you started from scratch, creating beauty and comfort in a bare “box.” Can’t wait to see future changes!


  19. Teri replied:

    Got to Paris today. It’s midnight, can’t sleep, so I just mapped out our day tomorrow per Keys to the Flea. Headed to Vanves! Your chandelier totally inspired me.
    Going to The Ham Fair later this week.

    Here’s to treasure hunting!


  20. Peter replied:

    Nice work, looking good. But here is my silly question, How do you get rid of the paint spilled on your clothing?


  21. FrenchBlue replied:

    I get to see you sooner than later!!! When are you getting in?


  22. Elle Croft replied:

    WOW – what a difference a few details make! Looks amazing – well done. I feel inspired now; I have just moved into a place that is boring and scummy beyond belief. I need to do something about that…thanks for the inspiration!


  23. Mrs. Meow replied:

    Claudia, I am glad you are taking the time o do this for yourself and your place. You need a sanctuary to come back to and .. this will help your creativity … You are too much of a decorative artist to not live in a comfortable inspiring place… somewhere to go to when you aren’t out going to Paris or NYC or what not… don’t forget YOURSELF! This is what I am trying to do for myself… My place started looking blah and boring… bougt some new bedding and pillows…. but the thing I’d love to show you most is my very huge picture of a mysterious lady from 1800’s or early 1900’s … I MUST show you… it looks like a photo…but maybe it’s an engraving… she is haunting and I knew I had to have her..the elaborate frame is slightly falling apart but I didn’t care…….You’d love her! This sort of thing is from the influence of you and the paris apartment for years now….




  24. à la parisienne replied:

    Where was this post about 10 years ago when I was living in an apartment? My roommate and I tried so hard to make it our own to breathe life into it, but YOU have a magic touch! I love the mirror in the kitchen!


  25. Apartments in Jerusalem replied:

    Amazing apartment. It’s like my dream apartment


  26. apartments replied:

    awesome place, i love the color theme,


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