Jojo’s Coffee Roasters and Tea Merchants – New Haven, CT

(Harkness Tower, where bells toll out over the city twice a day)

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driven inside by the rain, enjoying a cup of perfectly brewed earl grey while leaning back against a thick and frankly outdated tasseled brocade drape, and listening to Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.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.

(arched stone doorway and the inviting depths within)



(brocade drape complete with gold rope tie back)

(an intricate gate leading to a lush green on Yale’s campus)


Gray Paint on Walls


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.