Escape to a Tiny London Flat

Okay, I'm spoiled. In August I spent ten days in London, one of my favorite cities. After almost a year in Japan where I'm a total freak-of-nature-mutant-alien-outsider, it was amazing to be somewhere I don't scare the shit out of everyone because I look "just like their favorite zombie comic book character". (Awesome.)

Unwanted Japanese fame aside, I'm all about renting apartments when I travel. It's less expensive than a hotel and I get a much better sense of a place when I pretend to live there. (Uh, take-out anyone?) Besides, I have a short-term rental apartment so I consider this research and development.

Hahahaaa. As if.

Anyway, in my travels I've used Arbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and private rental companies but this time I went with One Fine Stay, a new company letting homes and apartments in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. I was impressed by the way they present properties, their styling and photography.

My spouse was there for work (officially) and this lovely little studio apartment in the middle of swank Chelsea is where we "lived". The flat is small but charming and was perfect for two. The wee kitchen is a converted closet but has a window, an under-counter fridge, a two burner stove and even a half-sized dishwasher. (No dishwashers in Japan, so this was decadent.)

The bathroom was luxurious, considering my Japanese bathroom is utter utilitarian sadness. (I hate it.)

One Fine Stay is still a young company, and our stay wasn't entirely problem-free but overall the flat was comfortable and the staff was responsive (if sometimes slow) to our requests. A staff member meets you there to get you set up and they even give you an iPhone, a major advantage when navigating a foreign city.

Maybe it was the time of year or global warming or the influx of Russian gangster money or being surrounded by the English language again but London was just what we needed. It was a smashing holiday and now I cannot wait to go back.


Long Awaited Punkrock

I get excited about a few certain events. Film festivals. Overseas travel. Ikea opening a store in my city. The arrival of fall. Food truck Wednesday. A Transformer movie without Shia LaBeouf. Shit like that. I don't talk music much here because film is more my thing. But then Rancid announced they're finally coming out with a new album and there's no way I can contain myself about this. Yes, my favorite East Bay punkrockers are back. And we only had to wait six years since they released Let the Dominoes Fall – but hell, I'd have waited 20 years.


When I live in Helsinki

I will live here. I hope Finnish designer Joanna Laajisto won't mind when I boot her out of her apartment.

Are these floors realistic for two big dogs with dark fur that flies off them at a spectacular rate? Probably not. Do I care? Nope.


It's a lot of white. For those long Scandinavian winter nights. So where IS the fireplace? Whaaat, an actual flaw? It cannot be.

The back room must be where they threw all the stuff they didn't want in the photo shoot. 

Damn this understated kitchen. 

I've probably pinned this rosemary-plant-and-wood-boards-on-marble-counter photo at least seventeen times. 

In truth I'd be happy if I could just steal these black coffee mugs and the shiny espresso machine from a few photos up. Not that I'd know how to work it.

(Sorry, I mentioned my caffeine problem in my last post. Addiction is real, people.)

Bay windows too? Stop. Just stop.

Photos by Mikko Ryh√§nen via Living | Seen on Desire to Inspire


Jacked Up Seasonal Affective Disorder

Summer. You can have it. Oppressive heat, sunburn, humidity, mold, insect colonies, stagnant air, scorching pavement, air conditioning ... all the hateful things. I didn't mean to stop posting here, but my energy level dropped into sub-existence and my world melted into a steaming hot mess. I lost interest in just about everything except cold alcoholic beverages and, well, that's not such a good thing. I hereby blame all of my shortcomings on summer. (Deflection is an art, you know.)

ANYWAY. Fall has arrived! And I say, thank fuck.

In celebration of my favorite season as well as a lasting return from the pit of despair I call summer, I give you this Dutch apartment by Studio Bakker. I absolutely love this space and how the quiet colors and low light are all about autumn.

I have this thing about kitchens. This one is no exception. It's open and simple and I want it.

I love that it looks like a real kitchen where someone might actually live, not just styled and posed for the shoot. I want to linger at that table in the morning drinking hot espresso made with the sweet little machine on the counter. The minimal under-counter refrigerator leads me to believe this apartment is surrounded by amazing take-out restaurants and there has to be a gourmet grocery store and bakery on the corner.

I usually go for white and bright but this room is so restful and simple, if somewhat masculine. Fine by me, I like men in my bedroom.

Oh the power of photography, always providing the stuff of dreams. I pretty much want to move in to this place right now because it will undoubtedly make my life perfect and serene. (Even if that big plant display on the table is a bit much.)

So yeah, I think I'm back. Thanks to this apartment, the pivot of the earth's axis, and a certain blogger friend who yanked me from that soul-sucking spiral of self-defeatism and purposelessness we all needlessly head down sometimes. (Please tell me it's not just me.)


Not my Japanese house: Part 2

It's taken some time but I'm beginning to understand and respect the Japanese design aesthetic. What's surprised me most is how elusive modern design is where I live. So, as with most things, I resort to the online search.

I'll refrain from snark about odd Japanese architectural details, props, and styling. This time.

Let me just say this residence too has almost nothing in common with my Japanese house. Residential neighborhoods in Japan tend to have blocky, suburban houses with run-down garden sheds, no lawns, garages or fences, and little or no outdoor space between buildings. Not host country bashing here, just telling it like it is.

Yes I realize I'm one lucky bitch to get to live over here but most Japanese architecture and interiors are straight up uninspired, borderline trashy, and they usually depress me. Which is why I'm determined to find the goods.

Speaking of goods, no Japanese home is complete without tatami. It's used in guest and living spaces, sometimes with nothing but a low dining table and seat cushions. Or it's found in bedrooms where you're expected to roll out a thin futon every night and put it away in the morning. (Fuck that, I bought a bed.)

Architectural magazines and blogs spotlighting Japanese design often feature homes with ample plywood ...

But I have yet to see anything like this.

Stairs in Japanese homes are frighteningly steep with tread depth meant for people with very small feet. In other words, they're a trip hazard for clumsy westerners. Particularly Americans.

Don't get me started on overhead fluorescent lighting – in Japan they fucking love it. (Same goes for China come to think of it.) But they have lovely skin tones, unlike me. Oh no, I look all pasty and sick if I get anywhere near a fluorescent bulb.

Homes in Japan will almost always have doors of varying heights. I haven't figured out the logic behind this yet. My 6-foot husband has to duck through 7 of 12 doors in our house. Our house was built in the 1980s or 90s, and Japanese people aren't necessarily as short as they may have once been. I don't get why they haven't increased the standard door size yet. I'm guessing there must be a reason.

Here's a great example of the typical Japanese building envelope – almost completely maxed. And believe it or not I guarantee the residents will not be adding nice patio furniture here. Though Japanese gardens are often small works of perfection, I was surprised homes almost never have outdoor seating areas of any kind. No fences means no privacy. The times we sit outside people walking by look at us quizzically, as if we're locked out of our house. Needless to say, we don't sit out much.

Overall a nice, bright design that maximizes its urban space in creative ways. To me the floor plan is interesting but not ideal. This is not my country, so there is no reason I should expect it to.

Architecture and design by Rythmdesign | Found via Ignant