Archive for June, 2009
Ok, we’ll let you in on a small semi-gross secret. Our master bedroom mattress was way way old. Hugh Hefner old. And it was a hand-me-down. In fact, John’s sister graciously donated it to us when we moved to Richmond three years ago (after decades of use with it herself). They say mattresses get stiffer with age and we can definitely vouch for that fact. Ours was as tough as a brick and about as comfortable as one too. But it certainly did the job over the past three years and we weren’t in any place to purchase a new one off the bat as we embarked on our extreme home makeover one room at a time. Paint, primer, other furnishings and accessories- even a kitchen remodel- came first. And every night we retreated to bed sore and tired and woke up more achy than the night before. Here are John and Burger demonstrating how not fun our old mattress was. Look at those sad faces.
But three glorious years later, the time finally came for us to bid a sweet we-won’t-miss-you-at-all farewell to our ancient mattress and welcome a new sleeping companion into our lives. Now we won’t go to bed with just anything these days, my obsession with all things eco made me yearn for a pure and organic mattress free of fireproofing chemicals and made from 100% natural materials that are just as good for the planet as they are for people.
After hours of googling I found a great little organic mattress comparison site, which led me straight to the arms of our new bedroom companion: the Organic Serenity Natural Dunlop Latex Mattress By Savvy Rest. It was the top ranked mattress and it was actually the most affordable one as well (other than the much lower rated and thinner one at the bottom of the page).
At $1999 for a queen mattress, it’s hardly a drop in the bucket. In fact it’s pricier than every piece of furniture in the entire house. But when you think about how much time you spend on a mattress, and how this baby is warrantied for a full 20 years, it really breaks down to pennies a day and the added fact that it’s so good for the planet and our bodies really was a selling point for us- even if it upped the price a bit. So after a few months of saving (we literally had a “mattress fund” in our savings account) our new bedmate arrived in three different boxes. And yes I did that squealing and clapping thing that I do when I’m excited.
Possibly one of the most amazing features of the Organic Serenity Mattress is that you get to customize the firmness. It’s made up of three three-inch layers of natural latex encased in a certified organic cotton & wool cover so each layer came in its own box (another added bonus is that it shipped from nearby Chrlottesvile, Virginia so it didn’t have to travel many miles to our door- hooray for buying “local”). Here’s one of the layers along with the organic cotton and wool cover:
The fun began about a week earlier when we got to personally select each layer’s density online during the ordering process (choosing between soft, medium, or firm) so we could create the perfect customized mattress just for us. You can even split each layer up the middle so if John liked a soft mattress and I liked a hard one, we could have chosen different latex densities on either side of the mattress for an individualized result. Since we both like a moderately firm mattress (not brick-firm like our former one, just not too soft since we’re back and belly sleepers) we chatted with one of the phone consultants and ended up going with one layer of “medium” followed by a second layer of “medium” and a layer of “soft.” And needless to say when those three layers arrived in their own boxes we couldn’t wait to put everything together. You know we like DIY projects around here! First we cleared out our old mattress (which we Freecycled by the way):
Then we followed the so-simple-Burger-could-do-it directions that came in one of the boxes. First we laid out the bottom part of the organic cotton & wool cover:
Then we took out the layer of natural latex marked “bottom, medium” and stuck it into the cover, wiggling it around like we were shaking out a rug until it was centered and even across the bottom of the cover. Even with just one 3″ layer of hole-riddled latex our bed was eons more comfortable than our old inner spring antique.
Then we placed the “middle, medium” layer of latex on top of the “bottom, medium” one and followed that with the “top, soft” layer, which you can see John adjusting below:
Once each layer was stacked evenly and aligned in the cover, it was time to bring in the top of the cover and zip it around all three pieces of latex to hold them in place for the long haul (20+ years according to the warranty).
John worked his way around the whole mattress, zipping as he went, and before we knew it we had a fully functioning new mattress to call home. And since each layer is 3″ thick plus there’s the quilted organic wool & cotton cover, our new mattress is a decadent 11″ thick (as opposed to our crochety old 6″ inner spring variety). Words can’t express how much we love our 2 year anniversary present to each other (cotton’s supposed to be the 2-year anniversary theme, and by golly the cover is actually pure organic cotton!). Look how good life is when you have a new mattress. You start posing like they do in those commercials with the wine glass on the bed:
So that’s the story of aching backs, researching, ordering, and assembling which resulted in sleeping like babies ever since (no more pinned featherbed required). Our actual anniversary isn’t until July 7th but we sure are glad we saved our pennies for something that we’ll appreciate for years (and years) to come. And speaking of the passage of time, look who was still hanging out on our new mattress hours after we assembled it and retreated to the den to watch some tube. Yup, Burger was sold from day one.
How about you guys. Are any of you in need of a new mattress or another household staple like a couch? Any wedding anniversaries coming up with cotton (or something else) on the agenda? Do tell.
Psst- Looking for an update on how we like our mattress? Check out this follow-up post where we detail how we feel about our big mattress switcheroo after a good amount of use.
After Sherry revealed her deep, dark design secrets last week (i.e. cringeworthy photos of her childhood and college bedrooms), I figured it was only fair that I cough up some of mine. I tried digging up pictures of my childhood bedroom (think royal blue carpet that served as the “ocean” to my Lego islands) and my high school bedroom (color scheme = gray on gray on gray) but had little luck.
But I couldn’t dodge the reveal-my-past bullet when it came to college. In fact, when you see how diligently I documented my dorm rooms, it’s like I practically fired that bullet at myself point blank. As you can see below, I not only photographed my freshman dorm room – I COLLAGED it into some weird makeshift panorama art piece (click to see it larger on Flickr).
This is the corner of a room I shared with a roommate (for all those UVA folks out there: I lived in Dunglison, and yes, I know I should’ve said “first year” instead of “freshman” earlier but I’m translating for non UVAers). Some items to highlight (besides that oh-so-teenage obsession with taping pictures everywhere):
- You can see my favorite high school color (gray) followed me to college
- My interesting choice in music posters: Third Eye Blind, Dave Matthews Band and… Lauren Hill (one of these things is not like the other)
- Above Lauren Hill, the license plate from my recently-deceased first car (a Dodge caravan with wood paneling). I still have this license plate in case Sherry ever wants to break it out again for some amazing home decor project (to this she replied: not likely).
- Dorm room staples: string lights and a lava lamp (ladies love them… don’t they?).
- Not one, not two, but three page-a-day calendars (clearly I had a problem)
- And perhaps the first indication that I would become fond of hidden storage & repurposing: my silver trunk-turned-nightstand.
But as if one weird photo collage wasn’t enough to document my undergraduate design sense, I apparently repeated this collaging process to forever memorialize my senior year apartment as well. Only by this time I had upgraded to a digital camera so I assembled this visual masterpiece/mindfreak in Photoshop, meaning you get to a complete 360 view of the room. I know, I’m fancy.
Oh and again you can click to enlarge it. This apartment was in an old house which had been made college-kid-ready by basically designating any room with a door as a bedroom (except for the bathrooms, of course). So there were 10 of us living under one roof, each with our own room. It was, in a word, awesome. My room was the former mudroom so it very long and narrow, plus it featured exhaust hookups for a washer/dryer and a door directly to the outside world (this was a huge perk at the time). You’ll see that my style did not evolve much from my previous dorm room:
- Gray is still the color of choice, now including the “custom” curtains I fashioned out of sheets and pillowcases (not unlike Sherry’s old sleepwear-turned-pillow project… we were meant to be)
- Music posters still rule, though Britney Spears became the new lady of choice (obviously not for her musical talents)
- My trusty license plate continued to qualify as “creative art,” joined also by an NYC subway map, some illustrations torn from playbills and – oddly enough – my previous dorm photo collage (you’d really have to squint to see it).
- My love of hidden storage continued. That bed was the top half of my childhood bunkbed from Ikea so it sat with about 2 feet of storage underneath it (sadly, it later became a victim of my bed bug infestation). I also bought an Ikea bookcase, laid it on its side and used it to house all of my schoolbooks and computer equipment. But my long bedspread covered it so I never had to keep it clean. Perfect for a messy 21-year-old guy.
At most, I would say there were subtle hints (very, very subtle hints) in there that I would someday actually enjoy space planning and design. Maybe my preference for gray led to our love of neutrals? Perhaps my trunk-turned-bedside table indicated the plethora of storage ottomans that would someday fill our abode? Maybe my obsessive documenting of every angle of my room foreshadowed a future in documenting my home for the world to see? Little known fact: I was the one who started this blog to document our house and Sherry was initially less than thrilled at the idea. Funny how things work out, eh?
Oh, and since I manged not to snap any photos of myself in my rooms while wearing airbrushed winking jeans, it’s only fair to share this Flickr group full of some less than flattering photos of me (bonus: you get to see Sherry in all of her previously-blonde glory).
It’s not uncommon for us to get a few email and comment questions about the way our house is situated on our lot. Many people can’t figure out where the patio leads or where our garage is located in relation to our house so we figured we should whip up a little exterior diagram for ya. We actually have almost an acre of land and an extremely deep woods behind our house for privacy, which we love (it’s actually one of the main reasons we bought our seen-better-days rancher). And we were also lucky enough to have inherited some great privacy hedges and fences that keep our yard feeling nice and secluded from our neighbors on either side. But on with the tour! Here’s our looooong and skinny lot (to scale):
You might not believe that this rendering could possibly be to scale (is your house really that small? is your lot really that long?) but we traced over a scaled blueprint of our property (found in our giant file of papers from the closing). Isn’t it funny how TINY our house is compared to the acreage that it’s on?! You’ll notice a few things right away. Poor John has a lot of grass to mow (love ya honey!), we have an extremely long driveway with room for a whole bunch of cars at the end, and we have more than enough trees and shrubs to feel like we live in the middle of the woods. You can also see how the sunroom stairs lead down to the patio, which leads out to the driveway, which is where we added our little herb & veggie garden (in one of the only full sun spots we had thanks to all the aforementioned foliage).
And because we get quite a few questions about where all of those sliding glass doors in our sunroom lead, we’ll clear that up once and for all…
Only one set of doors leads out to the back patio while the rest lead absolutely nowhere. Really, if you stepped out of them you’d fall about 5 feet into the edible garden or the bushes on the side of the house (see diagram above). But we love that they’re there for the view and the cross breeze that they provide when we slide ‘em open. The one that leads to a few brick steps that take you to the back patio is just out of frame to the right in this picture (see the corner of the doormat?):
And here’s a view of the patio from those stairs that lead down to that area:
But let’s rewind and start from the street. Here’s the house pretty much from the edge of the long driveway where it meets the street:
And if you walk up the driveway towards the house, here’s the side view:
Then as you enter the big part of the driveway in the back you’ll see where we had the tables set up for our backyard wedding:
Of course we’ve since painted the garage black, so on an ordinary day without 75 people back there it looks like this:
Here’s the view if you turn slightly to the right:
And here’s the scenery when you turn even more to the right and walk towards the gate (which leads to the patio). You’ll notice our little edible garden just outside the gate in front of the brick stairway that’s tucked away behind that lamp post. It leads down to the private entry basement (which is primed for a major makeover, stay tuned…)
Once you enter the back gate you’ll find yourself on the cobblestone path that leads to the patio. Here’s a shot looking back at the garage from inside the fence:
And here’s a shot looking up at the back of the house and the patio from that cobblestone path by the gate:
Of course we can’t forget the view of that crazy deep woods behind our backyard. We love that we have a nice sized grassy area for Burger/future babies along with the privacy and seclusion that the deeply wooded area offers.
Lot, we love you.
Can’t you see why it was the lot and not the house that stole our hearts and wooed us into making an offer? All that privacy and green was just so seductive after many years in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan.
So there you have it. A tour of our home’s exterior. What about you guys. Do you have any unusual features? A long skinny property? A detatched garage? A separate entry basement? A chicken coup? (We actually inherited one behind the garage!) Do tell.