Torrilin's Profile

Display Name: Torrilin
Member Since: 6/20/07

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There are right ways to use enamel paint on metal. Lots of them in fact. Regrettably, that Anthropologie tray is not using a single one of 'em. There would be a lot of ways to use paint and stripes on that tray to a truly stunning effect too. I am full of woe that instead it winds up looking like a piece of plastic trash.


Add a Little Color: A Single Stripe
9/12/13 03:54 PM

It's easier to list what I have (oven, stove, microwave, blender, dishwasher, crock pot) than what I don't have. Instead of an electric coffee maker, we have a French press. Instead of a stand mixer or a hand held electric mixer, we have a small battery of whisks and wooden spoons. It's doable to make merengue by hand with the gear we've got, and it's doable to make pound cake or other heavy mixing jobs. Toast gets done in the oven or via cast iron, depending on exactly why I'm toasting and what the end goal is. If there's chopping to do, or grating... I have knives. Lots of knives. And 2 microplane graters. And LOTS of cutting boards.

We usually also have a rice cooker... not because it's essential. It's not. But it's a nice luxury, and it's often one of our hardest working kitchen tools.

The crock pot is debatable... ours is a large one, but there's only 2 of us. For a lot of the meals that we like in a crock pot, our 3 quart dutch oven is a much better choice than a 7-8 quart crock pot. So the crock pot may wind up going away if we don't start having people over for dinner more often.

The blender vs stick blender isn't a huge deal one way or the other. We largely have the blender for milkshakes, so for us blender is better. If you're more into pureed soups or fruity dessert sauces, you'll probably like the stick blender better. I can also see living happily without.


What Appliance Can You Live Without?
7/1/13 02:08 PM

They (shockingly) remembered that Pennsylvania doesn't have palm trees (except when it does). Sadly, they left the rock wall wrong both in color and structure, and well... most trees don't bloom in September or October. PA does get that intensely bright light and blue sky, but not in February and March. Not sure what they thought they were doing with the lawn. That level of drought and blooming trees are simply impossible together.

That's ok, Angelenos are really cute when they think they're cosmopolitan and well travelled ;).


Mad Men Magic: Don Draper's Childhood Home Gets a Makeunder Franklin Avenue
6/26/13 04:17 PM

In the inspiration photos, *some* of the light is natural light. Most of it is well controlled studio lighting, so that the color temperature and intensity give the desired look. I'm not good enough at lighting to work out all of how it was done.

In your white kitchen photos, things are not too bad in terms of lighting. The white balance was fairly decent, the lighting directs the eye fairly well, and the exposure compensation is not too obviously off. (pretty much any camera, even an iPhone, will have ways to adjust these sorts of settings... you don't need a DSLR) In the photos where the walls are painted black tho, the white balance is off. The exposure compensation is obviously off. That means that the camera doesn't "know" what white and black look like... and that distorts the color in the entire picture.

Even if you mentally adjust for the color errors, the lighting is fairly harsh compared to the inspiration photo. There is a lot of direct lighting so shadows and highlights have a very hard edge. In the inspiration photo, the light is more like light from a softbox or a north facing window. So a lot of the wrongness in the after picture is due to your lighting design. Obviously, a photo studio style lighting setup is not real functional in a real world kitchen, so some compromises will have to be made. But chances are it's very doable to get your kitchen lighting more like the inspiration picture without having umbrella diffusers and flashes on tripods everywhere. And it makes perfect sense that if you change your color palette that you'd also need to change your lighting.


Apartment Therapy on Copying to Learn Renovation Diary
6/11/13 04:58 PM

Stick with a more natural finish. You don't have to have all the other wood in the place matching. If you prefer darker woods, have most of the furniture be a darker wood. Lighter and darker woods tend to look very good together. Also, keep in mind that wood darkens with age. The natural look you start with will not be the same as the natural look you wind up with.

And probably most important for floors... natural finishes wear very well. They don't show scrapes and scratches easily, and fixing them up is a piece of cake.


Should I Stain My Floor or Keep It Natural? Good Questions
6/6/13 09:11 AM

One of the only good features in our kitchen is the cabinets above the pass through/breakfast bar. It's a galley kitchen, so it's totally possible to store dishes in those cabinets, and since there are doors on both sides, you don't need to go into the kitchen to set the table. You also don't need to make a major production out of cleaning up after dinner either, or emptying the dishwasher. Stuff in the cabinets is very easily accessible.

The problem is that the cabinets are designed in such a way that they can't hold bottles of wine, or most condiments, or a lot of stemware, or most liquor bottles. Trying to store silverware in them would be idiotic. Just dishes and nothing but dishes. And in terms of height... the top shelves aren't useful unless you're well over 6 foot tall. The bottom shelves are only barely usable for me, and I'm 5'6". Also, they were very cheap cabinets to begin with, and after almost 30 years, they're falling apart...

So the core idea is good, the execution kinda sucks. I'll eventually fix things up so the cabinets are more functional. It wouldn't take much effort to transform the breakfast bar into something that works as a wet bar and buffet serving area as well as a built in eating area.


Smart Organizing: Keep Things Where You'll Use Them
5/28/13 02:08 PM

For full albums, it really depends. Sometimes Amazon is cheaper, other times iTunes is... assuming both have it. If you're a hapless English speaker looking for French music, Amazon will make it ridiculously hard to find or even impossible. ITunes makes it easy. I'm not a major audio geek, but I'd also rather not convert a lossy format to a lossy format, so iTunes AAC only policy tends to deter me. So I deal with it by keeping a personal wish list, and I check for useful sales every so often. I don't buy a lot of singles.

For books, it also depends. I read a lot of SFF, and I much prefer my books DRM free. Tor and Baen finally succeeded in getting DRM-free books into all the major retailers... before that, I would buy the DRM-free versions direct from the publisher if I had the option. It was a pain, but DRM is a pain too. I love to read, and I want new stuff to read, so I'm happy to pay for it... but dealing with DRM is not worth it most of the time.

For apps, I'm not usually worried solely about cheap. Whether it actually works well for me tends to matter more. I also don't tend to use a lot of apps. The paid apps I use most often are Byword (one of the approximately gazillion Notes replacements that talks to Dropbox) and Goodreader. While I could get paid versions of the flashcards app I use and the tasks app I use, I haven't found it essential so far.


How To Stretch Your iTunes Dollars Further
5/16/13 06:13 PM

Making a bunk bed is all about practice. After about 10 years of it, you get to be kinda good at it.

As far as the upper bunk with no railing... A rail is good/useful for a *little* kid, maybe as old as six or 8. But once you've slept on a lofted/bunk/captain's bed long enough, there is no need for a rail because you know where the edge is. Some kids are more cautious and will want an edge rail anyway, and you can make or buy railings that will work. They're often sold for toddlers. The detachable sort will not be sturdy enough to keep a bigger kid in the bed, but it will act as a cue that they've hit the edge. (obviously, if you're dealing with a kid who has neurological or motor issues, you'd want to be more careful)

I adore the studio with the lofted queen size bed.


Small Space Inspiration: Bunk Beds & Lofts
5/16/13 01:36 PM

Wall mount the TV. The TV should be purchased to suit the most screen real estate intensive game you play. For us, that was Rock Band, and a 40-50" TV works well for group play in a small to medium sized living room.

Next, you'll want something for holding your router, cable box, games consoles, charging game controllers, network hard drives etc. Think about which devices need to be poked at often and which don't. Stuff that needs lots of poking should be easily accessible. If there's a DVD tray, it should have space to open and close. This spot is also going to need a *ton* of power outlets, and they all should be surge protected. Depending on your social circle and gaming style, it may also need a generous helping of USB charge outlets. Depending on the kind of internet service you have, you may also need an uninterruptible power supply for the router and/or cable box.

As far as game controllers... as everyone else noted, it's not just the goofy console style controllers. Depending on the game, you may need keyboards, headsets for voice comms, mice, joysticks, fake plastic guitars... plus TV remotes, and remotes for anything else hooked up to the TV. All of that stuff needs a place to live when it isn't in use, and it needs to be actually usable for gaming. For our household, laptops are a big part of the solution, since we're both comfy typing with a laptop on our laps, and it minimizes cables everywhere as a trip hazard. What works is going to vary by gamer, and since we're a multi-gamer household there was some very real compromising to get a workable solution.

The couch in our place is comfy for long term sitting, and it goes across from the TV. In a world of infinite money, we'd have an additional 2-4 seats worth of kibitzing available that are also good for long term sitting. For now, we have a couch that eats people, and side chairs get moved around to suit the social situation.

Our living room is by far our most used room, so we cheerfully will spend money on stuff that makes it nicer to be in. But since it's the most used room, we also spend a good bit of time thinking and working out what the right thing is before we buy.


Gaming Room vs. Living Room Dilemma Good Tech Question
5/10/13 11:24 AM

Crate and Barrel stocks several china patterns made for them by Jars of France. Nuit and Samoa have been around since I was in high school (at least), and the matte black exterior with a richly layered colored interior glaze has appealed to me for just as long. I think Celeste is a new addition, and it's all black.

Cast iron is the archetypal matte black kitchen item, and I have and use a lot of it.

The Noir pendant lamp looks an awful lot like a Moroccan tagine, only without the making delicious stews. This is a grave failing.

This post probably could use a companion piece on matte white. Black and white are a classic combo, and it sort of bugs me that the only matte white in my kitchen are the towels.


Chic and (Not) Shiny: Matte Black Kitchen and Dining Products Product Roundup
5/9/13 08:50 AM

Get a parrot. Turn wall into a parrot play space.

I'm staring at the space imagining the acrobatics my sister's Alexandrine parakeet could get up to. And well, a parrot can be very pretty... Done right it could be very artistic, and easy to change around.

(obviously, not a good solution if you don't love birds... but this is totally a parrot's dream apartment)


What To Do with Giant White Wall? Good Questions
4/15/13 03:06 PM

I wouldn't generally identify those tables as a French style (tho I suppose it's possible). The ball and claw feet, fine carving and fine inlay work are all typical of American Colonial furniture or British "Queen Anne" style furniture, or revival pieces in those styles. In the US, this style is an enduring classic, and there are often trendy revivals around 100 and 50 year anniversaries of the US's founding.

I doubt these tables are actual American Colonial pieces. If they were, they'd be worth a bloody fortune. But if they're from the 1920s revival, they're not going to be worth a whole lot less.

During the 1920s revival of this style, painted reproduction furniture was very popular. Depending on your idea of a "vintage country" look, it may well be doable to find similar pieces that were painted to begin with and are pleasantly weathered looking. I really would not paint the tables you have in an effort to get the same look. It won't look good, and you'll be giving someone else a hellish refinishing job.


Ideas For Novice DIY-er with Outdated Tables? Good Questions
4/10/13 06:59 PM

Think of trim as the frame for your room. While I'm not fond of stark white trim as the only choice, if you're bothering to put color on the walls, white trim is a good starting point. White is particularly helpful when you're building an overall color scheme for your house and you want unifying details to flow throughout. White also tends to bring out the details in more elaborate trim.

We've actually done a fair bit of trim experimentation with this place. We're redoing one room at a time, from the flooring on up. Most of the carpet is nearly as old as the condo (so close to 30 years) and it's just not in good shape. We're replacing it with ash hardwood floors, and the two finished rooms have matching ash baseboards. This still gives a nice framing effect to the room. The original trim is a weird stained material... it might be wood, or it might not be. Hard to tell. While the material isn't very good, the chocolate brown stained color works surprisingly well for a framing effect with a lot of different wall and floor colors. In a good quality hardwood, the effect would be lovely.

If you'd hesitate to frame a dozen assorted pictures in a given color, it might not be a good choice as a trim shade. And while I might not hesitate to frame a dozen pictures in fire engine red... my partner (rightfully!) would hit me over the head with a cluebat if I tried. But gold, silver and black frames are used on a wide range of artwork, and stained wood works with a lot of art too, so it's not like white is the only possible trim.


Where To Start When Creating A Home Color Scheme
3/12/13 09:17 PM

Green is very much a go big or go home sort of wall color. Pastel shades can be tricky to work with. But green is heavily used in nature in very deep and intense shades, and most of us don't think going outside makes us look seasick. Even light green leafy plants tend to be many shades darker than we'd ordinarily pick for painting walls. And most of the plants that are viewed as "white" or "silver" are still darker than the sorts of light greens a lot of us think of when we think walls.

We wound up doing our master bedroom in bottle green and grey, and it's gives a relaxing feeling. The grey is a light and airy one that works well with the light from our all north facing windows. The green adds warmth and depth. Using two colors for the walls also lets the color shape the room and gives some subtle illusions. Amusingly, when we bought the place, the master bedroom was all a pastel sage green. Even tho supposedly dark walls make a room feel smaller, in our case it made the space feel larger, and it gives more of a sense of movement.

The other useful thing is that white rooms often reflect a lot of light at night. If you have a tough time getting your bedroom dark enough to suit, going for a dark wall color may help a lot.


How To Confidently Choose Paint Colors: Mark's Foolproof Methods
2/28/13 01:08 PM

Probably the most expensive thing in my kitchen is the tea kettle. I'm a tea addict, and my partner is a coffee addict. A sturdy whistling tea kettle gets used for at least 1 French press pot of coffee and 1 pot of tea every day, and it often acts as an aide de camp for other things. Risotto is a lot easier if you can just pour in dribbles of near boiling water. It's $40 or so for a nice kettle, so it's not a huge splurge. I don't particularly like the electric sort since the auto-off features tend to mean I boil and reboil the same water... better to have a loud and annoying whistle.

The next most used items are my Lodge cast iron. I could get by with the 3 quart dutch oven with a skillet lid, but it's a lot nicer to have a proper griddle and a large frying pan to go with. The 3 quart size is perfect for making 4-6 servings of soup, or a braised dish to feed 4 people. Lodge makes larger Dutch ovens with skillet lids, but for a household of 2 it's not real practical.

I've used knives ranging from really expensive to really cheap, and I honestly don't care as long as they're sharp. It perhaps says a lot about my cooking philosophy that I have decent knives even for camping tho... and that I always know where the whetstone and steel is.


The One Kitchen Item Worth Splurging On Reader Intelligence Report
2/25/13 06:34 PM

A world of no. Tea goes in the tea pot, coffee goes in the coffee pot. (my partner was a dedicated coffee addict, I was a tea addict... after 7 years, we've reached a comfortable detente) We use a French press for coffee because like a tea pot, it's a wonderful single use tool that works precisely as it ought.

Bodum does make tea pots with presses that work very nicely for strong flavored black teas like Assam or English Breakfast blends. If you're the sort of tea drinker who favors such teas, it might be just what you want. I found it was much less successful with other sorts of tea, and I'm kind of a Darjeeling addict, so when the pot went the way of all glassware, I did not replace it.


5 More Uses For Your French Press!
2/12/13 11:58 AM

When we purchased our condo, the seller was required to provide a copy of the association by laws for us before we closed. The document was really clear and understandable compared to what I'm used to with real estate legal documents, but I'm also from a state where it matters that you have clear title to the land's mineral rights and a geological survey to be sure the property isn't going to randomly sink 100 feet. If the by laws had not been clear and understandable to us, I would have consulted a lawyer to be sure I understood them.

I was also able to talk with the property management firm before we closed to clarify enforcement on a few details that seemed a bit ridiculous. Under the by laws for example, it's specified that only one bicycle can park in a unit's parking space. It's pretty easy to fit 5-6 bikes in a parking space tho, so provided the bikes are not interfering with other parking spaces, the rule is not enforced.

In the case of this grab bar, I would have clarified it with the property management firm before I signed. I'd want to keep a reasonable length of grab bar for my mom's mobility issues and in case my partner or I have another accident that puts one of us on crutches for 6 weeks. But a full length wheelchair accessible grab bar is excessive for our second floor unit in a no elevator building.


Can I Remove Bathroom Grab Bar in Condo? Good Questions
1/23/13 03:32 PM

#5 links to the same Design*Sponge post as #7, but the picture for #5 doesn't appear anywhere within the post. Sad, I really like #5.


Cloud Colors for Interiors: Gray & White
1/12/13 09:06 AM

There are a ton of apps that permit voice or video conferences. Google Hangouts work but on most devices take a couple minutes to get set up if all you need is voice. The main reason to have it IMO is if someone you talk to regularly is on an Android based device that's having issues with the Skype app. Skype is a lot better at handling voice primary, and it's easier to turn video feeds on and off as needed. Ventrillo and Teamspeak are the granddaddies of voice chat, and they work well for large groups, but they're not necessarily fast to set up. I haven't used Mumble yet. I'm sure there are other options too.


Great Mobile Tools for Collaboration
12/17/12 10:39 AM

While I don't like any of these kitchen designs, this is still a helpful post.

I cook a lot. My kitchen sees a lot of hard use. While a cherry cabinet/granite counter/subway tile kitchen is wildly unappealing, these designs are too. Formica or butcher block counters may not be terribly fashionable, but they're easy to clean and easy to work with. The cabinets I dream of are metal done up in white enamel paint, because it's easy to clean, shows dirt well and very sturdy. And I like square tiles and especially hand laid tile... if I'm going to spend good money on tile, it had better be pretty. Other equilateral shapes are good too, since I love old hexagonal or other regularly tiled floors. But rectangles? Ew.

My kitchen is heavily accented with red, but that red kitchen just makes me twitch. Red cabinets feel like they'd be much too much with my red painted walls and dark galley kitchen. And I love the shade of aqua used in the aqua kitchen, but it also makes me twitch.


Get Inspired: A Rainbow of Colorful Kitchens
10/31/12 09:57 AM