Love Hate Relationship New York City

View of George Washington Bridge from my bedroom. Photo by Tina Gallo at VHT Studios.

My love hate relationship with New York City stretches back about as far as I can remember.  When I was little we would visit my grandparents in New Jersey and come into the City for the day.  Usually it was Continue Reading

Craigslist List Furniture Pick-Up
5 Essential Tips for Craigslist Furniture Pick-Up

Craigslist furniture pick-up can be a very tricky endeavor.I got an amazing, heavy, Joao Isabel brass bed off of craigslist. The only catch was that it was in Connecticut (which is basically another country if you live in Manhattan).  My friend Ann-Marie and I rented a zipcar (Ford Transit) and drove out to pick it up.  I have picked up many craigslist purchases throughout the 5 boroughs and in Boston, but this was my first pick-up outside of a major city. We had a  series of misadventures, including getting locked out of the zipcar, not having the headboard fit in the back of the Transit, and me only having my phone and some cash.  Actually A-M saved the day on that one as we did not pass an ATM on the way–apparently CT doesn’t have bodegas and ATMs on every corner like in Manhattan).

Craigslist furniture pick-up
This is why you need my tips!

As Mike, the awesome seller helped us figure out if the seats could come out (not on the one we had).  We ultimately to tie the headboard on the roof. A-M looked and me and  said, “You know, you would be so screwed if Mike wasn’t so helpful and well prepared.  You need to have a kit with you when you pick-up craigslist furniture.”

She is so right!  She made it pretty clear that she’s not coming with me on anymore of these craigslist jaunts:-), but the toolkit certainly will!  Based on a double blind study and  analysis of more than 200 possible craigslist furniture purchases today’s excursion and my past experience, here is the kit I will now be bringing on craigslist pick-ups:

  • Tools-flat and phillips head screwdrivers, allen wrench, box cutter, tape measure-you never know exactly what you’ll need, but these should cover just about everything
  • Twine-a nice sized spool of something strong
  • Blanket or big piece of Cardboard-for moving, padding, sliding things down stairs or hallways, protecting elevators, and protecting the inside or top of your vehicle
  • Ziploc bag-for screws and other hardware
  • Duct tape-because it makes just about everything better

5 Essential Tips for Craigslist Furniture Pick-Up

  1. Bring the kit we discussed above (seriously, just do it, it will make your life so.much.easier)
  2. Measure your vehicle multiple times and note any spaces that narrow or change shape (especially the hatch opening, cupholders along the back and side, and rear console) and confirm that the seats can fold down and/or be removed if necessary
  3. Print out a hard copy of the directions before you leave home (your phone/GPS may lose reception en route-trust me, I speak from experience CT seems to be a massive “dead zone”!)
  4. Get cash before you leave home, do not assume there will be ATMs nearby:-)
  5. Bring a friend (seriously, when Mike said “let’s go in the basement” my heart stopped for a minute even though we were in a lovely and affluent part of CT)


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Ever wish you had a handy place to keep track of everything you need to buy, borrow, or find in the basement before you start a project?  Well, here it is! Just download this convenient free printable DIY Project Shopping List to help you stay organized so that you can focus on what matters (keeping all your fingers intact while using power tools, and finding the perfect color paint:-)

We close on the Cape next Friday (YAY!) and then will be camping out there for a week tackling our first round of projects:

  • Stripping all the wallpaper (I have never soon so much wallpaper, it is endless!)
  • Prepping and painting all the walls (yes, all of them, the only rooms that will be spared for now are the downstairs powder room and the kitchen)
  • Removing the carpet
  • Sanding and refinishing all the floors

As you can imagine, we need some serious help keeping this all organized and getting ready for our first trip to the big box store.  Since most of our other time working on the house will be weekends, we don’t have time to waste at the store. We need a clear list and need to have everything we need so that we can get to work.  It’s already going to be complicated since we have to wrangle the boys while doing work. I have visions of the boys tracking paint across newly sanded floors, and surprise trips to the ER (really hoping neither of those are true!).  We are filling out a page for each project, and then making a master shopping list for each trip to the store.  Hopefully this means we’ll have everything we need to just dive-in each weekend.

This list has been a life-saver for us and I hope it is for you too!

Printable DIY Project Shopping List

P.S. If you like this, check back next week for my printable Paint Color Planner and DIY Kitchen Renovation Shopping List.

I don’t remember my parents buying a new sofa until I was in college.  For most of my life, it was kind of a running joke in our family and with my parents’ friends that if they were getting a new sofa, we would want their old sofa.  My mom got sofas out of dumpsters at the local college, off of strangers’ front porches, at yardsales, and from friends and family.

I kept this spirit alive in college with my first furniture purchase, a sofa at the local thrift store that I had to borrow a friends’ standard transmission car to pick up (that was an adventure in itself as clutches and me were/are barely acquainted).  The couch was a hideous brown and cream plaid made out of some scratchy 1970s fabric that certainly had not started in nature. But, “Squishy” as my friends and I instantly dubbed the couch was loveseat size, fit perfectly under our lofted beds, and was quite comfortable as long as you were wearing long sleeves and pants.  My roommate and I felt Continue Reading

english roll arm sofa

I never in a million years thought I would be purchasing a $2000 sofa.  I am a dedicated thrift store, craigslist, IKEA, ebay, dumpster-diver for furniture and until now, I think $400 is the most I have spent on a couch (a Crate and Barrel sectional I got on craiglist and it came with a leather recliner!).  We have loved it hard for the past 4 years.  Unfortunately, Continue Reading

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Adrian and I are so excited to make our new house (aka “the Cape”) a home.  We have been pinning, and clipping, and clicking, and planning, and visiting stores, and feeling samples to find exactly what we like.

Great news, we have found a design that we agree on for almost all the rooms.

Not so great news, we have Dom Perignon taste on a Coors Light budget.


Continue Reading

IKEA Akurum Adel Kitchen

Photo by Tina Gallo at VHT Studios.

We did an Ikea Kitchen in our NYC apartment and LOVE it.  After 7 years it still looks great and we get compliments all the time.   We used Adel Akurum Medium Brown Cabinets, IKEA Beech butcher block countertops, the one and only Domsjo sink, and Elverdam pull-out faucet, and Asian Black floor tile from Home Depot, and a glass/marble/stone/slate tile mosaic from Home Depot for the backsplash.

What you can’t see in this picture is Continue Reading