New Haven, Connecticut itself is a study in extreme contrasts. It’s home to Yale, that venerable and important institution, but also hosts a rough urban population. On the wrong side of town, its not uncommon to find entire blocks of vacant business space. These would be otherwise charming and historical buildings, but they are completely empty due to an unusually slow recovery from the 2008 real estate market crash.
This brings me to Jojo’s. It is located just one block from the historical and architecturally beautiful Yale (architecture critics have called its soaring Gothic campus, laden with detailed embellishments on almost every square inch, one of the most beautiful campuses in America). True to the complicated climate in New Haven at the moment, Jojo’s is also a study in contrasts. It does not hit you over the head with saccharine coffee shop charm the moment you walk in the door. Rather, you step in through the narrow arched stone door with wrought iron gates thrown open during business hours, you observe the mismatched tables and beaten looking pillows on ordinary bench seats, and feel an anonymous welcoming feeling. This is a place you can stay for hours.
You step up to the counter where a women is yelling out coffee and tea orders like she’s slinging meals at the local soup kitchen. Somehow this doesn’t mar the atmosphere, it serves as a reminder that this is a shop where things are normal and not so polished and corporate. There are plenty of unplanned moments in this place.
Only after you grab a seat, do you hear the music playing not too softly in the background. It’s a blend of musical genres that you might listen to in the car by yourself, but probably wouldn’t admit to friends that you like the big band sound of the 30s and 40s, or the occasional heart wrenchingly tragic classical piece.
The people who sit around you are Yale students frowning deeply into their laptops and business people, silently congratulating themselves for slipping past the boss unnoticed to take a few minutes’ break to chat with a coworker over a richly brewed cup of coffee.
I sit here, driven inside by the rain, enjoying a cup of perfectly brewed earl grey while leaning back against a thick and frankly outdated tasseled brocade drape, and listening to Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. The effect is of being inside a warm, eclectic, paint peeling, cocoon.
The concept is simple: pick one color and decorate a room with only it and shades of it. This is actually not oversimplified and results in a gorgeous, unified looking space, evidenced by the images above and below. Here are a few guidelines to follow that will help you to achieve a room with an elegant cohesiveness and modern feel. The short version is make sure to vary textures; this is key when decorating with one color. An example is the leaf green foyer below that uses glass, wood, and fabric, all in varying shades of green.
(LOVE the green glass. note that the shades used are more note-in-a-bottle and less Heineken)
(notice the mismatched chairs still look formal because there are only 2 different sets mixed together and they are arranged symmetrically)
(I have a well documented love of the color gray in decorating, I am now dying to add silver/mirrors to my gray space.)
Photo References (in order of appearance):
(photos 2 + 3) http://www.porterhousedesigns.com/colorsizzle/
(after hanging everything on the wall; look at the adorable folding dish drainer on the right!)
Just that title alone is beautiful sounding. There is nothing more awful then cramming a cutting board full of raw chicken onto a kitchen counter already overcrowded with stuff. Necessary stuff to be sure; you can’t think of a single item on there that you use infrequently enough to deal with having to pull it out from the cabinet every time you reach for it. You really don’t want to just throw the chicken into the hot pan with those gross looking bits of fat on it, but you also don’t want raw chicken rubbing up against your coffee maker either while you wrestle with it on your tiny cutting board wedged onto the edge of the counter. You’re pretty sure at least that the chicken didn’t make actual contact with the coffee pot, you think.
Thankfully, Ikea has swooped in with a brilliant and affordably priced organizational idea to save the day (again). The Grundtal Kitchen Series puts needed things like a dish drainer and a cup of commonly used cooking utensils in the airspace somewhere above your kitchen counter. You affix sleek looking bars just below the cabinets above the countertop and then use sleek looking hooks to hang whatever your heart desires. Every time I visit the store there seem to be even more hangable kitchen accessories (brief aside: now that I am in my mid-twenties, I get UNBELIEVABLY excited by hangable kitchen accessories. My bratty 10 year old self would have been highly skeptical of the sanity of my 25 year old self).
(The most fresh and delicious lobster roll from Tully’s Clam Bar in Hampton Bays, NY. One of those sauces is maple butter for the potato fries, yum! This is a must visit if you are anywhere near the Hamptons this summer, they get their seafood from sister store Cor-J Seafood around the corner which practically plucks the fish and shellfish right out of the water minutes before selling it to you.)
(An antique stove damper by the Griswold Mfg. Co. found at Good Ground Antiques on Montauk hwy right in the heart of Hampton Bays. This is going on the wall in the kitchen to remind me how nice and convenient all of my modern appliances are 🙂 )
I’ve recently fallen in love with gray paint on walls. There are as many different grays as there are grains of sand and I’m discovering that they can create as many different types of rooms. A gentle dove gray can make a bedroom quieting and peaceful; a medium gray with earthy undertones can make the family room a comforting gathering place. In a studio apartment, I tried urban medium/dark gray with pearly white trim and found a sophisticated yet flexible combination, which is a must in a room that is your bedroom, living room, and dining room wrapped into one! In the epic search that ensued for the perfect gray for this difficult space, I stumbled across some really great grays that I’m going to keep in my arsenal of good colors for interior walls (and one for furniture makeovers!). They are listed below with brief descriptions:
(all of these are Behr brand paint in a matte finish – it’s my favorite brand of paint and it does a great job)
suede gray – the color pictured in the studio apartment above, dark gray, but not oppressive, masculine and established.
porpoise – gorgeous light gray, light reflecting and chic, the perfect gray for someone testing the waters of gray walls.
amazon stone – a LOT of gray/brown tones, quite dark, good to create a warm looking room with lots of light colored furniture.
creek bend -a warm medium toned gray, looks good with black and/or white furniture.
dark graphite – elegant med/dark gray with cool tonality, no warm undertones, best for use on furniture rather than on walls.