The fall zhuzh — 2022 edition!

Our winter living room rug; pristine condition, bought at auction from Doyle

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s that time again, kids!

We live, work, eat, dine and bathe in a one-bedroom apartment, so our place gets a LOT of wear and tear!

And that’s without kids or pets.

And I’ve been in the same apartment since June 1989, so cosmetic upgrades are ongoing.

Next up:

a small repair to the bathroom wall

repainting the balcony metalwork

cleaning some grout mold in the shower stall

adding a small picture light to the portrait of my great grandmother, hung on a wall with little light

a new portable lamp to help me read since it’s (DAMN) dark by 5pm now

We finally had our dining chairs recovered, from a butter yellow linen to a cool white pattern with a bit of sheen. Such a nice difference!

To get ready for fall and winter, here’s some of what we’re doing, (and maybe some suggestions for your home?)

While away for two weeks, we got the sofa cushion covers dry cleaned and did a long overdue vacuuming beneath the seat cushions.

Now taking inventory of all our china, glassware, serveware, cooking pots and pans, replacing and ditching as needed.

Taking a lint roller to every sofa cushion and arms and back; and cloth bed headboard…all of which are dust collectors and easily overlooked.

Our living room gallery wall, a mix of our photos, photos we have been given or collected

and a few posters.

Tossing as many unread books as I can stand to lose

Doing a clean rinse of the dishwasher

Removing as much indoor clutter as possible

Making sure we have plenty of candles (votives, tapers) for the dinner table as it gets dark so early

Also consider some safety issues easily forgotten like:

— dusting every light-bulb and lampshade, making sure you have enough light to read easily with shorter, darker days ahead

— is your fire extinguisher still working?

— smoke detector?

— carbon monoxide detector?

— shower mat?

— bathtub grab bar(s); love this one that doesn’t demand installation in the wall; a friend has one

Also, it’s a good time to replace things that get a lot of daily use, like:

— burned oven mitts

— worn wooden spoons

— cookware

— bed linens/towels

— wastebaskets

— napkins/tablecloths

— tired/old/flavorless spices

— shower mat

— shower curtain

— kettle or coffeemaker

Things to make life cozier:

— a lovely teapot and selection of teas and maybe even a tea cosy

— pretty cloth napkins/tablecloth

— a throw rug beside your bed

— fresh shams

— a vintage decanter

— some new bakeware; a muffin pan, bundt pan, tart tins

— a pair of colorful throw pillows for your sofa

I’m really glad we live in such a lovely home, the subject of much devoted care to cleaning, maintenance and upgrades.

I spent my childhood in boarding school and summer camp, (at home in Grades 6 and 7), and I have no doubt that so many years in shared spaces not of my own design has helped make me a bit obsessive!

I also studied for a few years at the New York School of Interior Design and learned a lot about how to make a place, even a small-ish one, beautiful, functional and welcoming.

I use many different resources:

For fabrics, basics from Ballard Designs, Calico Corners and amazing stuff (often $$$) from Svensk Tenn in Stockholm and Fabrics and Papers in England.

One of my favorite fabric sources is in (!) London, England, The Cloth Shop, who happily mailed me yardage I chose online. They have gorgeous linens and chenille at reasonable prices; one of their chenilles covers our homemade headboard, now 5.5 years old, it’s unfaded and fresh.

I don’t use Etsy or EBay but there are lots of bargains there, and so many online places from Joss & Main to Perigold to FirstDibs to Wayfair, plus all the big stores. Consignment and thrift shops and antique shops and flea markets can offer some amazing bargains.

We love Farrow & Ball paint (yes, expensive but we find it worth the price) and I splurge a few times a year on custom-made linens like curtains, tablecloths and throw pillows, all of which add warmth, silence, comfort and color.

6 thoughts on “The fall zhuzh — 2022 edition!

  1. I love all of your careful cleaning and freshening up, ready for a new season. I just realized recently that I’ve now lived here for 3 years ,and while I had my condo done prior to moving in, it’s time to refresh my space.

  2. Jan Jasper

    Your ideas are so inspiring. I also love Farrow & Ball paint – the walls where I’ve used F & B almost look velvety. I love estate sales. I’ve found quite few lovely prints at estate sales, usually in crappy frames. I’ve invested in taking them to a frame shop for re-framing – not cheap but well worth it…. Lighting is so important. Driving around, I often see people’s homes lit with these horrible greenish-white lights. There are eco-conscious bulbs that put out a light that looks more like the old tungsten bulbs – you just have to know which ones to buy. (Is it even legal to manufacture the traditional tungsten bulbs any more? I know they put out a lot of heat for the light they produced, which is not a good thing, we now know.) If I buy a bulb that produces such an ugly light, I take it back to the store…. Also I collect antique lighting, not gas fixtures of course, but lighting from the early 20th century. Or good replicas. (Actually, my house, built in 1865, has gas “nubbins,” a technical term I use, lol – these stubs a inch or two long, protruding from the walls and ceilings in several spots where there had once been gas fixtures. Obviously, the gas was long since turned off.) ,,,And I love your idea of using candles at dinner to help combat the gloom of it being dark by 5 pm.

    1. Thanks…I really miss roaming flea markets and antiques shows! Westchester used to have so many of them and now almost none. There’s a very good one way up in CT that I may try to get to one morning. Lighting is HUGE…We have almost no overhead lighting and if we do it’s all on dimmers. Dimmers make a great difference. Circa lighting has gorgeous stuff, as does Rejuvenation. Have you discovered OKA? SWOON. An English company now selling in the U.S….great cushions, lampshades, lamps. Great style and not stupidly expensive.

      1. Jan Jasper

        Thanks for the shopping suggestions, I’ll look into those!…Yes, dimmers are really important…. Recently, I rearranged my books. A few years ago, I had custom built-in book cases made. They go all the way up to the very high ceiling. But since I needed a ladder to reach the top shelf, books up there never got looked at. So I rearranged all my books, donated a good many to the library, and now I use the top shelves only to display lovely old teapots and various glass and ceramics pieces I’ve collected over the years….I’ve bought a few wonderful Asian textiles from eBay (which are hanging on my walls), but I don’t go to eBay often – I must avoid the temptation; I don’t wish to have my house overflowing again.

      2. We have some boxes of books in the garage, a desperate attempt to thin our shelves. Many of mine are reference books of images on design, antiques, textiles, photos. Weeding out helps.

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