suite soirees: a valentine’s day picnic complete with an epic heartcuterie board

Resources linked below

In quarantine, home really is where the heart is. Spending so much time indoors this year and still wanting to be safe during the pandemic, I decided to move things outside and set up a heart-themed picnic for my SuiteHearts (aka my pre-fiancé, Brian and bestie, Dan).

I first set the scene with a plush faux-fur rug and scattered a few blush and cream pillows around the center table so we could all sit comfortably. Then I created a focal point on the hedge with fabric flowers and a wooden “love” cut out in front of two chairs and a small table as a conversation space.

The drinks, or as I like to call them, “Suite Sips”, were perched on their own marble table for a drink station. I knew I had to have some variety for all of our different tastes so there were two rosé wines, beer for Brian, canned vodka spritz cocktails, and a fun pre-mixed strawberry margarita that fit in perfectly with the pink theme. Of course I turned to Dan and cheekily asked, “Will you accept this rosé?”

For nibbles, I always love to create pretty cheeseboards so I took the Valentine’s Day theme and created a “Heartcuterie” board complete with cheese, crackers, fruit, candies, and deli meats that I wrapped to look like roses. What better way to ask, “Will you brie mine?”

I fell in love with the idea of heart-shaped caprese salad (even though it was a bit cheesy) and was so happy with the way it turned out that I loved it from my head, all the way to-ma-toes. It was super easy to make and really delicious to eat.

For something suite, I hand dipped cherries in white chocolate and rolled them in black sprinkles for an updated twist on the classic chocolate-dipped strawberry. There was also heart-shaped watermelon and crispy vanilla meringue perched on marble pedestals.

I love the way the whole picnic turned out and it was a nice change to celebrate love outdoors. Tell me, do you beleaf in love?

Resources

Love Sign  I  Felt Hearts  I  Glitter Hearts
Faux Fur Rug  I  Pillows  I  Marble Table
Marble Cheeseboard  I  Marble Pedestals  I  Two-Tier Tray
Crackers  I  Heart-Shaped Crackers
Bubblegum Yogurt Pretzels  I  Cosmo Popcorn  I  Meringue
Candy Lips  I  Cosmo Bears  I  Cinnamon Hearts
Rose Wine  I  Rose Wine  I  Strawberry Margarita  I  Beer  I  Canned Cocktail

What snack would you fall for first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.


if you’ve got it, haunt it: how we decorated the building for halloween this year

We’re just here for the boos! My pre-fiance, Brian, loves Halloween. No, like loves Halloween. So when he asked a few years ago if he could decorate the building, it started off innocent enough with a few tombstones. Then came the handmade coffin, then a smoke machine, then a spider the size of a small car. Each year he’s expanded on his, ahem, inventory – I mean display.

Well this year I was in for a surprise when a box the size of our mattress showed up in August. August! What crawled out of that box was none other than a 12 foot tall skeleton with light up eyes. Brian looked like a dwarf standing next to it! He tried to hide his mischievous smirk when he looked at his new toy and then to me to see if I would scold him for his frivolous (and secret) purchase.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I am really disappointed in you.” He kind of chuckled under his breath and then I deadpanned, “I am really disappointed that you didn’t buy two.” I mean, come on, I have to admit that a skeleton that can easily peep right into my second floor bathroom window while I’m showering is kind of a cool addition.

Then we added those good ol’ headstones, the car-sized spider, last year’s purchase: a skeleton horse with a new, black, glittery skeleton rider, and pretty much everything else Brian had squirreled away.

We normally confine the Halloween decorations to only the front yard of the building, but since we remodeled and relandscaped it last year and the trees have grown in, our usual set-up had to be reimagined since it would’ve been hidden behind the tall hedge. So we decided to try something new and instead stage it at the entrance and along the driveway of our building this year.

When we decorate for Christmas, I love to hang oversized white and gold ornaments over the driveway and last year we created a more permanent cable system that is reusable and easier to put up than fishing line. So I had this idea that we could repurpose the cables for Halloween and hang bats and skeleton spiders from up above. Brian had the idea to swag beef net “webbing” over the cables so that the spiders looked like they had created a home for themselves. As a final touch, our ghost girl hovers in the center and watches over the building and I like to joke that she’s a potential new tenant that prefers an upper floor.

We still had a lot of open cables so Brian suggested we hang the faux flame candles that we purchased for another project and didn’t end up using. They had just been sitting in the attic so he drilled some holes and looped fishing line through them so they hung upside down a la Harry Potter. This has been my favorite new element by far this year. To see the soft, warm glow of candles that appear to be floating above the driveway is really quite magical at night.

We tried to create vignettes all along the driveway and for a little property management humor, we set up a spot with a “manager” sitting in a chair holding a “Vacancy Available” sign next to an open coffin with two occupants scrambling for the chance to be interred. A metal arbor with dead tree limbs still attached frames the scene and we added black flowers to the arch of the arbor. We had been storing the arbor that was being thrown away by a restaurant for years when I said, “When else are we gonna use this thing?”

And then, this year, we have a vacant first floor apartment that we’re remodeling so I came up with the idea to create a scene in the windows and use the glow-in-the-dark skeletons that don’t really go with the rest of the outdoor decor. And Brian finally got to put one of those floor fans that tenants always throw out when they move to good use and wired a skeleton to it and turned it on to add some movement.

follow us on Instagram @TheSuiteLifeLA

We have a few more elements to add to finish it all up (a cemetery sign spanning the driveway), but we’re super happy with the skele-fun we’ve been able to conjure up during such a bummer year. To see the kid’s faces when they run down the driveway with their parents is just pure Halloween excitement. #TrickOrSuite, witches!

What’s your favorite part of this year’s Halloween decor? Let us know in the comments below.

All images courtesy of Brett Erickson I Video courtesy of Dan Magro


suite eats: a green snack board for st. patrick’s day

I love a good cheeseboard.  Any time that I have friends over or entertain, I always like to offer a pretty cheese board or charcuterie plate since it’s easy (and delicious) snacking.  I also love any excuse to get creative and color coordinate.  So with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I wanted to do a twist on my regular spread and do more of a “green day” inspired snack board full of gorgeous green veggies, fruits, guac, candy, and cheese (obvi).

I headed to one of my favorite stores, World Market, to stock up on all the green treats they had from all over the globe.   (Links to products below.)

I started with my go-to cheese board plate (similar here) that my spread quickly outgrew, so I decided to embrace the idea of making my kitchen island the center of attention and laid everything out there.

First, I placed small bowls that would hold the dips around so that they would anchor the snacks and then started layering in the good stuff.  I made sure to use an odd number of bowls to keep things visually appealing.

Then I grouped the veggies together like green peppers, celery, sugar snap peas, cucumber, and green cauliflower.  To the bowls I added green castelvetrano olives and pesto to dip.

Above the veggies, I added in fruits like green apple, pear, grapes, and kiwi.  I added hummus and a garlic & herb spreadable cheese in the middle so you could dip the veggies or fruit in either one.

Then I found these fun, green guacamole flavored tortilla chips and mounded those by the bowl of guac.  Together they were so good!

I layered in a few other crunchy snacks for texture like “Margarita Crunch” popcorn, wasabi peas, and wasabi almonds before finishing off the snack board with some suite treats.

For the dessert end, I added matcha green tea Pocky biscuit sticks, green tea Kit Kats, apple flavored candies, and green tea chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

And no get together is complete without a good wine to offer guests so I partnered with Winc who delivered four bottles straight to my door and tailored to my tastes.  I took a quick quiz online and my delivery included my favorite, a sauvignon blanc, along with a chenin blanc, sparkling chardonnay, and a red blend.  Having hand selected wine delivered definitely made this soirée easy to plan since I didn’t even have to leave the house or scour the wine aisle looking at labels.  And Winc got it right too – we loved every bottle.

If you’d like to try four bottles of wine for $39 plus complimentary shipping, just use my special code here from Winc.  Your friends may be green with envy with how easy it is.

Resources

Winc Wine
Wasabi Almonds  I  Wasabi Peas Popcorn
Pesto  Olives Hummus Spreadable Cheese
Guacamole  I  Chips
Kit Kats  I  Pocky Macadamia Nuts  I  Apple Candy

What snack would you dive into first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


front yard makeover: the plan

Ever since I took over management of the building 10 years ago, re-doing the front yard has always been at the top of my wish list of projects to complete.  But along the way, other projects took priority like exterior painting, landscaping, and apartment updates.  Somehow this project always seemed to get pushed off of the docket and ended up on the “maybe someday” list.  I even applied to a few HGTV makeover shows in hopes that our building would get picked and our front yard makeover would become a reality.  I thought maybe I even had an in when I met the designer and star of one of the shows at an event.  Sadly, even that dream died.

So this project has been about a decade in the making for me and I am beyond excited to tick this one off the list.  Before we take a look at where we’re going, let’s take a look back at where we started.

Back in 2009, the building was green and taupe and hadn’t been painted in at least 20 years.  It had a ton of overgrown foliage, peeling paint, bars on some windows, rusty security doors on a few units, dirt down the center driveway, and a plethora of opportunity to whip this 1950’s-era building back into shape.  We started small by just cleaning up the existing landscaping and then adding some new plants and faux grass down the center driveway.

Then when we painted, the building really transformed.  Take a look at the before and after photos below.

why update the front yard

Well, it’s the first thing every apartment tour, resident, visitor, and neighbor sees and as the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.   The curb appeal of the front of the building sets the tone for what you can expect when you step into one of the apartment suites and we believe that a pretty environment makes for a nicer and lovelier place to call home.

design goals

We like to approach every project we do by first asking ourselves what we can improve on.  Here’s a few things we’d like to accomplish in redesigning the front yard:

Improve curb appeal and building aesthetics

First and foremost, we wanted to redesign the front yard to be pretty – both from the street and from the inside of the community.  We want it to feel like a natural extension of the mid-century building while still updating it to make sure it fits with timeless trends.

Enclose the front yard and building

As it is now, the front yard is very open and exposed.  We feel that by enclosing the front yard, this will make the community as a whole more private, less accessible, feel more secluded, and reduce the amount of walk through foot traffic.

Provide privacy for the lower front units

These two suites have their bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen windows exposed to the street, sidewalk, and neighboring buildings.  While this can be great for people watching from the patio, this isn’t an ideal view for a bedroom or bathroom since foot traffic on the sidewalk can easily peer into these areas if the blinds are open.  We redesigned the front yard with increased privacy for these two units in mind.

Provide a sound barrier between the building and the street

Living in one of the front four units naturally comes with an expected level of street noise.  You hear the intersection, street traffic, pedestrians walking by that can get rowdy after the bars close, and Hamburger Mary’s in all its late night drag queen bingo glory.  There’s nothing to buffer and filter the sound so we also aimed to address this in the new design.

Create an outdoor area for community events and residents

Of the 16 1-bedroom apartments that make up the community, only six of them have outdoor patio areas.  The majority of the apartments have no private outdoor space and the community does not have any common areas for the residents to get together.

Every few years, we like to throw an event in the center courtyard so that all of the residents can meet each other and get to know one another.  In redesigning the front yard, we wanted to enclose it so that we could move these events to a private area that wouldn’t impede the use of the driveway.  This also creates an opportunity for our residents to have a place to be able to read a book in the sun or have a margarita outside with a friend.  We hope that the redesign of the front yard allows our residents to do that while still being mindful of the proximity to neighbor’s windows.

the plan

To prepare for the front yard redesign and for inspiration, I’d often walk up and down the surrounding streets, stopping to take pictures of yards that I admired.  I had pieced together a few different ideas that I liked when one fateful day, as I was driving along my regular short cut through an adjacent neighborhood, an intersection was closed and I was forced to take a different street.  And thank goodness I did because I literally stopped and fell in love with a front yard right then and there that I would have never seen on my regular route.  I used this yard as inspiration for the Sweetzer design.

We’re going to start with a clean slate and will be removing all of the existing boxwood, grass, ficus trees, lighting, and wire fence.  Then, we’ll level off the soil and get to work.

First up, we’ll be building a three-foot tall wall all along the length of the front yard and set back three feet from the sidewalk.  This will enclose the front yard and act as a sound barrier while also providing additional security.  We’ll finish it with smooth coat stucco and paint it to match the building so it looks like it’s been there all along.

As a focal point, we’ll also be adding two six-foot tall pillars on each side of the driveway to define the building’s entry and add some grandeur.  To these we’ll add lighting on top and address numbers.  Eventually, we’d love for these to support a gate, but for now they will act as pretty monuments to define the entry.

We’ll also add two pedestrian gates up front to access the walkways that run along the sides of the buildings.

To soften the hardscape, we’ll add a row of white iceberg roses in front of the wall.  This will break up the space between the sidewalk and the wall with pretty foliage that echoes the already existing white roses in the brick planters and along the parkway.  We’ll also plant some fig vine that will eventually climb up the half wall too.

Behind the wall, on the inside of the property, we’ll plant a row of ficus trees that will eventually grow to form a hedge and add a ton of privacy for both the community as a whole, but especially for the two lower front units.  As the front yard exists now, these suites have their kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom windows exposed to the sidewalk and street, so having a green hedge will completely transform the view in these apartments.  They’ll feel more private and like they’re nestled in their own little secret garden.

To complete the design, we’ll add faux grass on the inside – between the ficus trees and the building.  This will ensure that this area is always green while reducing our water usage and also the need for the gardener to mow (hello, no more noisy and smelly gas mowers).  This open grass area can also double as a communal area.  Imagine putting down a blanket and reading outside in the sun with a glass of rosé in hand.  Now that sure sounds suite to us.

Let us know your thoughts on the design in the comments below.


suite spaces: our client’s 1928 town home gets a close up on architectural digest

One of my favorite quotes about interior design is by Nate Berkus when he said, “Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.”  And it never ceases to amaze me how a little style and panache can completely transform an empty apartment into the most opulent space.  So it came as no surprise when Casey Smith’s home, whom we had leased a gorgeous two story town home to, was featured in Architectural Digest.

The 1928 classic Spanish-style building sits in the heart of West Hollywood’s Historic Courtyard Thematic District.  A cluster of buildings built in the 1920s, the architecture “responds to the region’s mild climate by extending interior spaces into the outdoors and integrates the desire for individual housing and a yard with the practical need for higher density development,” according to the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Committee.

A small building of just seven town home-style units, this apartment was a stunner all on its own with its original hardwood floors, ornate fireplace, and large, picturesque windows.  Each apartment even features a unique stained glass pane located in the center of the living room and master bedroom windows that depict different scenes like a medieval sailing vessel in this particular unit.

Because this type of architecture is so coveted in West Hollywood, the second we put it on the market, we had a ton of requests to come see it and ended up with multiple applicants for just the one unit.  We were even excited to show it to one of our favorite celebrity fashion bloggers who mentioned casually that she would’ve used the second bedroom as a closet, as one does.

When we first showed Casey the town home, he immediately described how he would furnish the space and shared some before and after photos of Arizona homes that he himself had restored and decorated.  They were obviously impeccable seeing as though he cofounded Studio Cavaco with legendary stylist and former Allure creative director, Paul Cavaco.

After he moved in, when Casey invited us over to share a glass of champagne in his new WeHo abode and see for ourselves how he had styled the apartment, we were all too happy to oblige.  We were stunned to see how he had transformed the space from bare blank canvas to high society style worthy of a photo shoot and feature in well respected Architectural Digest.

We love how Casey’s home reflects his warm personality and eclectic, worldly style.  We knew he’d make the space his own and are so happy that he shared it with us.  To see more of this beautiful town home and hear how Casey describes his style, head on over to Architectural Digest here.

What was your favorite part of this home tour?  Let us know in the comments below.

Images:
Building Exterior: Kansas Sebastian I   Vacant Apartment: The Suite Life  I   Furnished: Daniel Kukla for Architectural Digest


suite ideas: be prepared for flu season by building your own sick kit

There’s nothing worse than waking up with the flu or a cold.  You’ve got stuff to do and places to go and no time for being sick.  When my boyfriend and I came down with a week-long cold after Thanksgiving, we were out of commission, in desperate need of cough drops and tissues, had no desire to leave the house, and just wanted to curl up in bed with a blanket and some Netflix.  I wished we had everything we needed to feel better without having to venture out to the store to pick up some sick essentials.

When we felt better, I made a list of all the things that we went out and bought, that I wished we had, or that would’ve made us feel better.  With flu season peaking in February, I pulled them together in a pretty basket to make a “Sick Kit” so we have everything on hand next time Brian or I get sick.  (Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen for a very long time.)

feel better essentials

  • Basket: I started with this cute basket from The Container Store that matched our apartment decor and that I’d be excited to pull out when I was feeling icky.

  • Cough Drops: Mixed berry cough drops with Vitamin C from Ricola to help sooth sore throats from coughing and open up nasal passages.
  • Emergen-C: Tropical Emergen-C packets filled with 1000 mg of Vitamin C plus antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes.  Whenever I start to even feel the slightest bit sick, or if someone in my family is ill (hello little niece and nephew), I immediately start adding an Emergen-C packet to my water bottle to help my body fight off any potential illness.

  • Soup/Bone Broth: Nothing makes me instantly start to feel better than a warm bowl of soup.  When my mom isn’t around to make her soothing chicken noodle soup, bone broth has many healing benefits so I picked up this one from Epic Provisions.  You could also put in your favorite can of soup or instant chicken noodle soup packets.

  • Mug: Probably the number one thing I want when I’m sick is hot tea with lemon and honey.  So I included this pretty initial mug from Anthropologie.  I tried to include little luxuries like this that would make me feel happy even when I’m sick.
  • Tea: Served piping hot, tea can instantly sooth your throat when you’ve got a cough.  I chose Pukka’s “Love” tea with organic rose, chamomile, and lavender.

  • Honey: This is my favorite honey because it’s so smooth, flavorful, and has a little spicy kick to it (yes, I do still add it to my tea).  Bees Knees also makes a meyer lemon honey which would be good too if you’re not into the spicy honey like I am.

  • Snack/Granola Bar: I found myself just wanting little snacks here and there that were easy and healthy so I put in one of my new favorite protein bars by RXBAR.  I love these because they’re filling and super delicious (currently craving their mixed berry).  You could also include your favorite granola bar, popcorn, jello, or oatmeal.

  • Fluids/Something Fizzy: You definitely want to keep your body hydrated when you’re sick, so I included these IZZE blackberry sparkling juices.  The bubbles help calm tummies and the fact that these have no added sugar and are just 70% juice and sparkling water made them an easy choice.  You could also include your favorite bottled drink like a Starbucks coffee, Gatorade, or ginger ale.
  • Wipes: When you don’t want to move from your couch or bed, these facial cleansing towelettes come is super handy.  Great for cleansing your face for a quick pick-me-up or your hands.  I also use them to wipe down remotes and my phone so germs don’t spread.

  • Chest Rub: This will help open up airways and clear stuffy noses with eucalyptus and tea tree oil.  We chose this one from The Honest Company since it’s organic and hypoallergenic.
  • Aromatherapy Spray: We love a good face mist and this one from Happy Spritz has peppermint and eucalyptus and makes me feel like I’m at the spa whenever I spray it.  The aromatherapy blend is soothing and the peppermint essential oil helps provide relief from seasonal allergies and colds.  It’s also nice to spray on your pillow before bed or a Netflix binge.
  • Sleep Mask: Your body will need plenty of rest and this soft, furry sleep mask from Target can help keep light out so that you can focus on getting some shut eye and feeling better.

  • Socks: I’m firmly in the camp that believes that if you’re not feeling well, then you pamper and indulge yourself a little.  That includes slathering on a luxurious hand creme and then letting it soak in while wearing soft, furry socks like these from Target (they were only $3).  Bonus that they keep your feet warm.
  • Lotion: I am currently in love with this amazing tuberose scented lotion from World Market.  It smells divine and is so rich and hydrating on my hands and feet.  It’s a definite treat when you may not be feeling like your normal glamorous self.

  • Candle: I like to light a yummy smelling candle when I’m sick (and when I’m not) and I love the way this “Spa Water” candle from The Little Market smells like pineapple, strawberry, and mint.  It instantly brightens up any room or mood and I’ve received countless compliments on its scent.  And what’s even better is that the soy-based candle is hand poured by female refugees and helps to provide them with a source of income.
  • Book: Now’s the perfect time to pour yourself into a good book while you have some downtime.  For me, that’s event planning books like Lauren Conrad’s Celebrate (seriously, so good) or home design, decor, and entertaining books like Emily Schuman’s Cupcakes & Cashmere At Home.  You may want to reach for a mystery, thriller, or business book like my former boss Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual.

  • Face Mask: In keeping with the pampering theme, why not draw yourself a warm hot bath and soak with a revitalizing face mask on like this one that I purchased from World Market. You could also face mask while on the couch or in bed reading.
  • Body Scrub: Exfoliate your skin in the bath with an uplifting scent like this pink clay grapefruit body scrub.  Your skin will be more polished and you’ll feel better with the bright scent left lingering on your skin.
  • Bath Salts: Relax and unwind in a warm bathtub filled with a fun scent like fresh melon and bath salts that also include pink clay that will help calm dry skin.  Alternatively, you could also include your favorite bubble bath or bath fizzy to perfume the water.

While the products above are just what make me feel better when I’m sick, you may have other ones that you’d like to include.  A box of tissues, cold remedy medicines, or soft blanket would also be great additions.

I’d love to hear what you’d put in your “Sick Kit” in the comments below.  What would you include?


celebrity suites: a few notable residents that have called our building home

As you step from the bustling street, down the center courtyard, you’ll instantly notice the mid-century charm of the building.  From the lush landscaping, to the tranquil fountain, to the curved bay windows, this two-story apartment building has been home to a few famous faces over the years.

We don’t know if it’s the Old Hollywood vibe of the building that attracts these creative types, but if these walls could talk, they’d tell you all about the lines that were rehearsed, the songs that were sung, and the acting dreams that came true while these celebs called our building home.

Wilson Cruz

Until recently, this accomplished actor called our Dietrich floor plan home for almost six years.  If you were a teenager in the ’90s, then you may remember Wilson as Rickie Vasquez from the insanely popular cult classic My So-Called Life with Claire Danes and Jared Leto.  He also went on to star in Rent on Broadway, He’s Just Not that Into You with Drew Barrymore, and most recently as lawyer Dennis Vasquez on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why (which we totally binged).  In addition to acting, Wilson is also known as being an activist for the LGBTQ+ community and served as a spokesman for GLAAD.  You can catch Wilson currently portraying Dr. Hugh Culber on the new Star Trek: Discovery series airing on CBS.

Azita Ghanizada

You may remember Azita as Rachel Pirzad from Syfy’s Alphas.  And we can almost guarantee that you’ve seen her in one of her many guest appearances on hit TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, Veronica Mars, The Mentalist, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, and Castle.  Azita lived in our Monroe floor plan, coincidentally right next door to Wilson Cruz and we love that they’ve maintained a friendship even after moving out.  Recently, Azita founded the MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition which fights for the advancement and visibility of Middle Eastern North African performers on-screen in film, television, and streaming platforms.

Kelly Thiebaud

Kelly was one of the first people we leased to when we took over management for the building back in 2009 and way before she portrayed Dr. Britt Westbourne aka “The Britch” on General Hospital.  Back then she lived in our Monroe floor plan and was a muse in David Guetta music videos but has since gone on to guest star on shows like Days of Our Lives, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Criminal Minds before becoming a recurring cast member on General Hospital.

Holly Woodlawn

A colorful and beloved resident, transgender icon Holly Woodlawn called our Monroe floor plan home for over 10 years.  Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Puetro Rico, Holly grew up in Miami and rose to fame in Andy Warhol’s 1970 movie Trash.  She was later immortalized in the opening lines of Lou Reed’s catchy song, “Walk on the Wild Side”.  Holly also had a cameo in Madonna’s “Deeper and Deeper” music video.  After moving out, Holly appeared as herself in an episode of Transparent and sadly passed away in December 2015.  She was included during the In-Memoriam segment at the 88th Academy Awards and is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery just down the street.

Fun Fact: Azita Ghanizada moved into Holly’s suite right after it was remodeled so it has major Hollywood vibes going on in there.

 



Joan Dixon

While we can’t 100% confirm that Joan Dixon in fact lived here, we can confirm that we found some personal effects of hers while remodeling the Dietrich floor plan suite that Wilson Cruz moved out of.  While replacing the bathroom cabinet, we found an invitation to Joan from Captain Joseph Ropars of the SS France inviting her to cocktails on the promenade deck which places the date of the card sometime between 1964-1966 when he was captain.  Since the invitation was found underneath the cabinet where there was no easy access, we assume that she once called this suite home.  Joan was a film and television actress in the 1950s and was under contract with Howard Hughes.  She is best known for her role in the 1951 film noir Roadblock which just so happens to have come out the same year the building was built.  In the 60’s, Joan performed as a vocalist at Dean Martin’s nightclub, Dino’s Lodge, just up the street on the Sunset Strip, so our building would’ve been a super close retreat for her after a night of entertaining and singing.

Who were you most surprised to learn lived here?  Let us know in the comments below.


suite sips: halloween-inspired cocktails conjured up by mixologist dan magro

For the last two years, my boyfriend has gone crazy with decorating the front yard for Halloween.  It started off innocent enough with a few tombstones, but then last year he kicked it up a notch with a fog machine, homemade coffin, treasure chest, two-story high spider web, skeletons, hanging ghosts, and a gigantic spider.  So naturally, we also threw a party to go along with the lawn decor because I mean, how could we not?

I like to make everything from scratch so I got busy Pinterest-ing decor and food ideas (you can check out my Pinterest board filled with Halloween ideas here), and then I enlisted the help of my friend and hobbyist mixologist, Dan Magro, to conjure up some signature drinks for the evening.  For those of you who don’t know Dan, he’s the author of Suck It Up: Extraordinary Cocktails for Everyday People so he kinda totally knows what he’s talking about.

I gave Dan free rein to be creative and he was mindful to incorporate our “Spiders & Skeletons” theme that had a black-and-white color palette so that the drinks matched and didn’t feel out of place.  He decided on two different cocktails (I love an over achiever) with one being tequila based and the other being vodka based.  Both were equally delicious.  And you know it’s a good cocktail and a good party when Dan and I had to do an emergency refill of the dispensers halfway through the night.

arachnophobia

Ingredients

  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz agave nectar
  • Activated charcoal* (don’t worry, it has no taste or grit)
  • Spider-infused ice cubes^ (optional)

Directions
To make spider-infused ice cubes, simply freeze a washed plastic spider in a large ice cube tray like this one.

To make the cocktail, in a glass, muddle one 265mg capsule of activated charcoal, thoroughly extracted.  Combine remaining ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass.  Serve over one large spider-infused ice cube.  

bone marrow

Ingredients

  • 1 oz citrus vodka
  • 8 fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz ginger turmeric simple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • Gummy bones or skull candies for garnish (optional)

Directions
In a glass, muddle raspberries with vodka until thoroughly extracted.  Combine with remaining ingredients (except gummy candies) in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake rigorously and strain into a martini glass, making sure to catch any raspberry seeds.  Garnish with skull or white bone gummy.  We used these cute “vampire” teeth and skull candies from Sockerbit.

Which scary good cocktail do you want to try first?  Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimers:

^ Plastic spiders are not to be consumed and can be a choking hazard if not securely frozen in large ice. Do not use small cubes as the ice melts faster and the black spider will be hard to see in the darkness of the cocktail.

* Activated charcoal can, in certain circumstances, absorb medication’s active ingredients (such as birth control) before your body gets a chance to. Consult your doctor if you are on regular medication of any kind before consuming activated charcoal.


these walls do talk: the retro wallpaper we find

When we’re remodeling an apartment, there’s nothing we get more excited about than stumbling across a gorgeous vintage wallpaper design hidden underneath 65 years worth of paint.

Back in the day, wallpaper was the stylish norm and we wish that we could find pictures of our Old Hollywood-era building to see what the apartments looked like when they were originally built.  What we’ve pieced together after updating a few of our apartments is that the kitchen cabinets were probably an avocado green and the floor a black-and-white checkered linoleum with wallpaper in the dining room (different in each unit as far as we can tell).  We usually find these fun wallpapers just above the chair rail as we’re scraping off layers of paint (and sometimes layers and layers of wallpaper).

To help preserve this 1950’s nostalgia, we started saving intact scraps to frame and hang in each apartment, but we found that some of the designs were too large to get a good salvageable piece and a small scrap just didn’t do them justice.  So we’ve made sure to take photographs of the last layer of wallpaper and mark what suite number we found it in, so we can share them here.

Let us know which design is your favorite in the comments below and be sure to check out our before and after shots of a recently remodeled apartment here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated.


these walls do talk: laundry room remodel

Laundry: Before

Laundry.  It’s loads of fun, right?  Maybe not, but I definitely think that hitting the spin cycle in a pretty space makes it a little easier to get through.  Apartment laundry rooms are notorious for being dark, drab and boring and since we’re all about “elevating apartment life”, we set out to remodel the last of the two laundry rooms at the building we manage in West Hollywood.

We got the other laundry room up and running after 20 years of downtime a few summers back, but this one was still looking all sorts of sad and in dire need of its own so fresh and so clean. Now we’re not one to air our dirty laundry, but we wanted to tell you about how we made over this space.

the before

The first thing we always like to do when tackling a project is to really take a look at the space and identify what the problems are (if any) and think of ways we can improve on them.  The first issue in this room (other than it was just sad and ugly) was that it had an awkward layout with the dryers so far away from the wall that the previous manager had to run the exhaust pipes pretty much across the length of the room.  Not pretty or practical.

Then we had the unsightly water heater in the corner and an old table to set your laundry basket on that was found on the curb (thumbs up for recycling).  The plastic sink wasn’t flush with the sloped floor and was made level by screwing it to a piece of wood that had paint peeling off of it (nice work, MacGyver).  The original 1950’s back splash, while I love vintage charm, was way too big for that small sink and just looked odd because of it.  We know from when we remodeled the other laundry room that both rooms were originally set up to have two cast iron sinks, but we’re not quite sure where they went or why they were removed from this one.  Overall, the layout left us with a tight space with not much room to maneuver and a square room screaming for some perky paint and a new personality.

the design process

Part of the fun of a project like this is getting to design it – it’s a great creative outlet for me.  I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate a nod to the building’s 1950’s heritage and add in a bit of drama with dark walls.  My color inspiration came from blowout salon, Drybar, since I love their color combination of gray and white with touches of yellow.

I also knew that I wanted to add some cabinets with cubbies inside for the tenants to be able to store their laundry supplies like we did in the other laundry room.  That way they don’t have to carry them back and forth every time they want to throw a load of laundry in.  In the other laundry room that we remodeled, we purchased cabinets from Home Depot and then put in dividers to make individual cubbies and added colorful storage baskets for each of the tenants on that side of the building.  But this time I wanted to do something a little bit different, so I thought we’d change it up and do a Shaker-style door instead.  I know, we got super crazy!  Off to Home Depot we went to pick up the cabinets.

When shopping for accessories for this remodel, Target was one of our first stops.  Now if you’re like me, then you already know that feeling of unadulterated pure joy that can only be felt when going up and down every aisle at Target for no reason at all.  Oh those stylish Nate Berkus desk accessories; those colorful Oh Joy! and Design Love Fest end caps filled with fun little goodies that you just HAVE to have to complete your soul.

Since I was designing this laundry room at the tail end of fall, it was right around the time that “Back to School” accessories went on sale.  Naturally, I needed to browse through these as I dreamt about our future children and their cute little backpacks filled to the brim with brand new folders and pencils (all color coordinated, of course).  I pushed my cart further down the aisle and became legitimately mesmerized at all the colorful locker accessories.  Umm, where were these when I was an awkward teenager navigating the treacherous waters that are middle school?  My locker could’ve used some of this “cool” factor back in the 90’s to go along with my C+C Music Factory and En Vogue tapes, for sure.

Back at the job site later, I reminisced about those super rad locker magnets and mini chandeliers that I saw at Target to my project manager (and boyfriend), Brian.  I think I might’ve even said, “I wish I could go back to school just to decorate my locker!”  Well, then smarty pants Brian looked at me and said, “Why don’t we do lockers for the cubbies in the laundry room instead?”  DING!  That’s it!  That’s a brilliant idea that I didn’t come up with on my own (err…). But I gotta give design credit where it’s due and Brian definitely earned this one.  Back to Home Depot we went to return the Shaker-style cabinets.

We hunted high and low for lockers that were big enough to fit a standard size laundry soap jug and thought that square “box” style lockers were just the ticket.  Only we weren’t able to find them anywhere where they were also counter height.  They were either too tall or too short. Having to abandon my dream of eight individual box lockers stacked two high and four wide, we ended up going to a locker salvage yard and purchasing used double-tier vintage lockers instead.  Oh, the memories they evoked from my Thunderbird days.  The good news was that they were within budget.  The bad news was that they were old, beat up, and blue.  Brian got to work on power washing them and then hammering out some dents in addition to cutting them in half, painting, and securing them together.

 

pulling it all together

Now that we had our lockers and a solid vision, we got to work on pulling the whole design together.  We started by relocating the ugly water heater out of the room and to the other side of the wall where there is an adjacent storage closet.  This freed up a ton of space and let us lay out the room in a more functional way.

We chose white wainscoting for the lower half of the walls to break up the space and give it some fun texture.  Behr “Ultra Pure White” is always our go-to white and it really helped to brighten up the small space.  To give the room some drama, we tested a few samples for the top part of the walls and finally landed on “Legendary Gray”, also by Behr.

We chose a standard Home Depot bathroom cabinet to house the sink and to covertly hide a few cleaning supplies underneath too.  I’m happy to say that when we remodeled the other laundry room, it had those two original cast iron sinks I mentioned earlier.  We saved one for this remodel and after storing it for a few years, we were able to put in back into action.  Welcome back, old buddy!  We gave it a good scrub and anchored it to the wall and cabinet.

To give the space a little glam, we tiled the sink surround with marble tile.  The hexagon shape was another nod to the 1950’s while the material was just the perfect touch to elevate the space a bit.  I think it’s so fun to use fancy finishes in unexpected places like a boring, old laundry room.  And because the amount of tile we needed was so small, we could afford to splurge a little bit here.

the after

They always say “the devil’s in the details” and I definitely think it’s the accessories job to help make the whole design come together in a cohesive way.

For the counter top, we opted for butcher block to warm up the space since Carrera marble felt too cold and like a little bit too much.  Each locker got a butcher block shelf added to it to create a place for two tenants to store their laundry supplies.  Then we labeled the inside of each locker door with yellow numbers that correspond to the tenant’s apartment number.  I still get a nostalgic kick out of that sound of metal hitting metal when opening up the lockers now.  On top of the counter top, we found the cutest vintage washing machine container from Cost Plus.  We used our Cricut to label this as the “lost & found” for stray socks.  When a solemate goes missing and is placed inside, it looks like the little washing machine has a full load of laundry in it.  So cute!

On the wall above the lockers, we added a few Ikea “Ribba” frames and used our Cricut again to design and cut out our own “artwork”.  We used large clothespins for one frame and classic laundering symbols for the other to help illustrate tenant “laundriquette” when using the communal space.

There’s nothing worse than when doing laundry, a neighbor cuts in front of you or (gasp) moves your laundry from the washer to the dryer so that they can use it.  As Stephanie Tanner would say, “How rude!”  To avoid these types of scenarios, we designed a way for the tenants to communicate who was doing laundry and who was next in line.  Each tenant now has their own name tag hung on a bubble-filled drawer pull anchored to the wall.  When doing laundry, they can move their name tag to the clip that says “washing” or “drying” to let neighbors know who is doing laundry and who is next in line.  That way, if a load is accidentally left in the dryer and forgotten about, we know whose door to knock on.  Or a tenant can claim their place in line by putting their name in the “waiting” clip.  Our tenants are very courteous and will knock on each other’s doors to let them know that they’re finished and that the washer is now available.  And for some fun, we added some magnetic poetry to play with while they wait for the machines to stop spinning.

To light the room, we went with an affordable Ikea “Vitemolla” fixture that brought in some texture and then angled each of the lights to spotlight certain parts of the room.  We chose a 50’s inspired trash can from The Container Store and to create an immediate focal point, we added a decal from Etsy that helped to bring in some of that vintage feel as well as break up the gray wall.

On the wall above the sink, we added a wire organizer from Cost Plus that was painted white and inside we added a few small accessories like a plant, vintage-looking hand soap, and a mason jar filled with clothes pins.  Above the self, we hung a metal “laundry” sign, also from Cost Plus, that we repainted yellow.  And since we always like to “surprise and delight” wherever we can, we also added a mason jar filled with Lemonhead candies for our tenants to enjoy while doing laundry.  We think the space turned out pretty sweet (even without the candies).

Let us know your favorite part of the remodel in the comments below.