Archive for February, 2011
Today’s a cool day – it’s marks our 5th anniversary of living in Richmond.
On this date in 2006, Sherry and I woke up on an air mattress in my Upper West Side apartment (she had already moved all of her stuff out of her Soho studio and turned in the keys) to greet my dad, who had driven up in the mini-van that would move us and all of our worldly belongings (hence the air mattress – we had sold our mattresses) to the River City. Seven hours and one stop at Ikea later we arrived at our new apartment in Richmond – unemployed, unwed, and uncontrollably excited about the life ahead of us.
But enough about our back story (you can read more about that here), let’s talk about Richmond. We often get asked for recommendations for what to see, where to shop, and what to eat when in Richmond. So we’re taking this 5th anniversary occasion to share five “Top 5″ lists about some of our favorite things in RVA. Are you sensing a “five” theme here? Here’s what we’ve covered:
- 5 Favorite Places to Chow Down
- 5 Favorite Tourist-y Things To Do
- 5 Favorite Ways to Enjoy a Gorgeous Day
- 5 Favorite Places to Score Home Deals
- 5 Favorite Swanky & Inspiring Home Stores
***5 FAVORITE PLACES TO CHOW DOWN***
Sherry and I aren’t “foodies” by any means, but we definitely love finding an excuse to eat out for those special occasions. Here are a handful of quintessential Richmond restaurants where we love to dine:
- Kuba Kuba: A cozy, casual, and colorful spot in The Fan for Cuban food. Sound “in the know” by pronouncing it “Coo-ba Coo-ba” and not “Kyoo-bah Kyoo-bah.” Here’s the Kuba Kuba website.
- Bottom’s Up: We took the Bowers to this pizza spot in Shockoe Bottom during their visit last year. Be sure to check out the 6 foot high water marks from when it flooded during Hurricane Gaston in 2004. Here’s the Bottom’s Up website.
- The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing: We celebrated the news of Sherry’s pregnancy at this new-ish riverfront restaurant. The food’s great, but the views of the James River and the expansive city skyline are our favorite part (see the picture below). In fact we took Sherry’s mom and stepdad here last night. Here’s the Boathouse website.
- Crab Louie’s Tavern: Technically in Midlothian, this seafood restaurant sits in a historic house older than the USA. Among other reasons, we love all of the fresh bread options that you get before the meal arrives. Carbs. Yum. Here’s Crab Louie’s website.
- Sticky Rice: We loves us some sushi (read about our sushi tradition here), so this somewhat American hipster twist on it is always fun. Plus, where else can you order “Sticky Balls” and not get a weird look? Here’s the Sticky Rice website.
***5 FAVORITE TOURIST-Y THINGS TO DO***
We don’t have a Statue of Liberty or an Eiffel Tower, but these Richmond “landmarks” should be on your list when you’re in town:
- Browse the VMFA: Recently renovated, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts building and the art within it is pure eye candy. And with the exception of special exhibits (currently it’s Mr. Picasso), it’s all totally free to see. Here’s the VMFA website.
- See a movie at The Byrd Theatre: This gorgeous movie palace built in 1928 still shows second-run movies for just $2. It’s fun to grab some popcorn, squeeze your legs into the old school seats, and enjoy the cinema in style. Here’s the Byrd Theatre website.
- Stroll around Hollywood Cemetery: It sounds weird, but this cemetery makes for a gorgeous afternoon walk. Beautiful views and famous headstones (including two US presidents and countless Civil War figures) totally negate the creepy factor – especially in the fall (pictured below). Here’s the Hollywood Cemetery website.
- Shop Carytown: Loads of local shops and restaurants line Cary Street to create Richmond’s iconic and colorful shopping district. You’ll even hit up a few other items on these lists in the process of visiting. Here’s the Carytown website.
- Walk (or run!) Monument Avenue & The Fan: Monument Avenue is lined with stunning historic row homes and – surprise! – several monuments. And the nearby Fan district also boasts lots of inspiration. It’s great for walking or running on a nice day, especially if you have time to stop in a neighborhood restaurant or park. Here’s The Fan district association website.
***5 FAVORITE WAYS TO ENJOY A GORGEOUS DAY***
We think Richmond truly shines when it’s nice out, so here are some of our favorite places to soak up a beautiful day:
- Pony Pasture: This horse-y name actually belongs to an area of the James River Park System with great nature trails for walking, gentle currents for swimming, and exposed rocks for sunning in the hot months. We always describe Richmond as a beach town, but instead of having an actual beach, locals hang out at the river. (Check out Burger enjoying a hot rock and a long stick in the picture below). Here are directions to Pony Pasture.
- Maymont: This park is one of our favorite spots to take visitors. Why? Tons of paved paths, beautiful gardens, a petting farm, historic buildings, a nature center, and even a zoo (sorta – there are bears, foxes, buffaloes, and bald eagles to name a few). And most of it’s free – even the zoo and the petting farm. Here’s the Maymont website.
- Belle Isle: Kinda like Pony Pasture, but more island-y and closer to downtown, you can come here to enjoy nature and the city skyline in one vista. Plus it has great trails for walking, running, or mountain biking. This is where Sherry and I went from liking to loving Richmond when we first moved here five years back. Here’s Belle Isle on Wikipedia.
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: Call it nature in a more controlled setting, but the admission price is definitely worth the scenery (and the landscaping ideas you can bring back home). We took Sherry’s mom and stepdad here when they first visited – it was a great way to spend the day outside strolling through scenic settings. Here’s the Lewis Ginter website.
- Stony Point Fashion Park or Short Pump Town Center: These are spots for a more traditional “mall” experience, but in an airy outdoor setting. So you can hit up Anthropologie or Crate & Barrel, but still get some sun and stroll along cobblestone paths. Stony Point’s even dog-friendly (Burger has visited every shop from Sur La Table to Banana Republic). Here’s Stony Point’s website & Short Pump’s website.
***5 FAVORITE PLACE TO SCORE HOME DEALS***
We couldn’t survive in this town if we couldn’t find awesome deals for our house, so here are some local haunts that we love (besides the national chain stores like Tar-jay):
- Diversity Thrift: We’ve found lots of great stuff here over the five years (including the base for our pedestal table in the sunroom and our glass coffee table in the old living room). You can read more about why we love it in this post.
- Love of Jesus Thrift: This is another go-to thrifting spot, especially if we’re on the hunt for furniture. My sister scored the amazing console below a couple of years ago there. Read more about that in this old post.
- Lakeside Avenue Thrift Stores: A more recent discovery of ours, the thrift and consignment stores along Lakeside Avenue (like Consignment Connection and Pass It On) are where we recently scored our beloved wooden goose.
- The Decorating Outlet: This store is where items from local sponsor Shades of Light go to be discounted, and where we’ve been going to buy items like the rug and the capiz light fixture in Clara’s room on the cheap. Here’s the Decorating Outlet website.
- U-fab: This discount fabric store is always on our list when we’re hunting for textiles or patterns to bring home. Their selection is more stylish than the big chains tend to be, but they’re cheaper than the fancy designer places. Here’s the U-fab website.
***5 FAVORITE SWANKY & INSPIRING HOME STORES***
On the opposite end of thrifting and discounts are some of Richmond’s most gorgeous and inspirational home stores. Be sure to bring a tissue to wipe the drool from your chin when you visit (even if you don’t have the money in your wallet to buy something):
- Williams & Sherrill: Half housewares, half fabric store, this place has more inspiration than we can handle on most occasions (see our photo below). Someday we’ll be fancy enough to actually buy something. Sigh. More on them here. And here’s the Williams & Sherrill website.
- Ruth & Ollie: This shop in Carytown is smaller yet a bit more contemporary than Williams & Sherrill. We especially love the furniture and art that abounds. Check out a few ideas that we got from them in this post. Here’s the Ruth & Ollie website.
- LaDifférence: Located in Shockoe Bottom, LaDiff is a huge store filled with modern furniture, accessories, lighting – basically, the works. You may remember them from this oft-referenced wallflowers giveaway post. Here’s the LaDiff website.
- Shades of Light: Yes, they’re a sponsor of our site, but we couldn’t not include them on this list of go-to home stores in Richmond that we love, especially when it comes to gorgeous lighting (we’ve been obsessed with them since way before their sponsorship started). Here’s the Shades of Light website.
- Caravati’s: Unlike the others on this list, you won’t find anything new or pristine at Caravati’s. It’s an architectural salvage warehouse that is loaded with once-loved items for any remodel, restoration, or craft project with a historic and authentic twist. See some more in this old post.
So there you have it, five “Top 5″ lists to celebrate our 5th anniversary of moving to Richmond. Obviously in five years we can’t claim to be Richmond experts, so we invite everyone else who lives here in RIC (or have visited) to chime in with their favorites in these categories (or others). And while we’re at it, those of you in other cities are welcome to comment with a “Top 5″ list for your hometown too. Who knows if we might end up visiting someday!
Psst- We announced this weeks giveaway winners. Click here to see if one of them is you.
How’s that for a title? Haha. We’re about 20% there with this room, but we’re sharing these pics in the name of the work-in-progress reality that is our new house. We definitely think some paint on the walls (we’re flip-flopping between soft gray and mocha) will tie things together and better integrate items like the shower curtain and the bathmat along with the sweet vintage yellow tile. And of course bringing in better art, fun window treatments (maybe a bright roman shade?), changing out the light fixture, and implementing other tweaks down the road will hopefully take it from “meh” to “how you doin’?”
The good news is that it works and it’s clean. You can brush your teeth, take a shower, and use the “facilities” without issue. And thanks to the previous owners’ meticulous housecleaning skillz, there’s not a dot of crud or mildew to be scrubbed. Anyway, enough intro. Here she blows:
That’s right, I folded the toilet paper into a little triangle like they do at hotels. Because I’m crazy.
I apologize for the lack of sweeping see-everything photos, but it’s a tiny room. You can stand in front of the sink and touch all four walls – that’s how small it is. But as for our other little additions, I added a small acrylic trash can to the left of the toilet (you can see it peeking out in that top pic) and we used one of those suction cup shower caddies to store some little sample shampoo & conditioner bottles along with body wash in the shower. We also plopped a mini tube of toothpaste in a cup above the sink.
I thought offering bar soap and liquid soap would please anyone with a strong preference either way, and we hung some “placeholder art” above the toilet (three food related wedding pics – cupcakes, grapes, and lemons – that we already had framed) just to fight the Complete Bare Wall Syndrome that was going on. We figure they’re good for a bathroom because they’re just photos that we reprinted and framed ourselves, so if they get damaged from the moisture over time, we still have the originals and can easily reprint them. Although someday we’d love to hunt down or DIY something that ties into the printed shower curtain and deep teal walls in the adjoined bedroom for a little more pop.
We don’t have much by the way of “countertop” in our tiny bathroom, but we kept the lid of the toilet tank empty so people can drop their toiletry bags there if they’d like (since our sink doesn’t have any lip to speak of). And bringing in some plush white bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths completed the mom-and-Jack-ready makeover. It may not be done but it’s definitely grandparent worthy. Haha. And at least we’re not dealing with this awkward see-your-whole-body-while-sitting-on-the-toilet issue anymore:
Three cheers for a non-reflective door in front of the John. And by John I mean both the commode and my husband. That’s right, it’s a toilet-related double entendre.
Sometimes, you just gotta let things “shake out” – haha. John kept rolling his eyes while I ran back and forth from the guest room to try “one more thing” all day yesterday, but I just love playing around, tweaking things, adding this, subtracting that, and seeing where we end up. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole process, all that final-hour-switcheroo business. And we’re so glad that we shared yesterday’s in-progress pics to show how just a few tweaks in the last 24 hours can really change things up. Not über dramatically, but enough to make a difference for sure. Sometimes it’s those last minute changes that make you step back and go: There. Done. At least for now.
Who am I kidding? I’ll probably be back in there hanging art above the chairs and switching out the bookcase for a proper dresser when we hunt down the perfect one on craigslist in a week or two. And then there’s the crown molding we’d love to add down the line along with a million other changes that we’ll probably roll out over the next few years. But those are projects for another day, because my mom and stepdad will be arriving in T-minus-four-hours. So here’s what the guest room looks like now that we picked up three things from Tar-jay yesterday afternoon.
Those three things were:
- a large $24 faux leather tray
- a round $49 oil-rubbed bronze mirror
- a cute green $19 table lamp
You’ll remember that yesterday’s to do list included hanging something above the bed to balance out the big window to the left (hence the purchase of the big round mirror) and adding a nightstand and table lamp (hence the purchase of the cheap-o table lamp and the tray that we attached to the top of the green luggage rack that we got last week while thrifting on our little V-day beach trip last week).
First I repaired the straps on the luggage rack with thick brown ribbon and a staple gun.
Then John came up with the genius plan to use Command removable adhesive strips…
… to securely fasten the tray to the luggage rack in a way that’s 100% un-doable, thanks to those removable strips.
After placing our new luggage-rack-turned-side-table next to the bed with that cute green lamp…
… and hanging the oil-rubbed bronze mirror above the bed…
…we both really loved the idea of bringing in the leather storage bench that was sitting unused in the playroom for the foot of the guest bed.
That way we could remove the patterned brown blanket that we had folded at the foot of the bed (for a splash of dark color) in exchange for the more “classic” and less busy brown ottoman (which would also serve as a place to sit down, store linens, drop bags, set out magazines for mom, etc). All hail function. And ottomans. Seriously, we can’t get enough of them. So for those of you who hated the brown blanket with a passion that can only be described as intense, rest assured that it’s been beaten and burned. Just kidding, it’s sitting in playroom purgatory with all of our other “leftovers.”
And on the subject of stuff we already have, we knew that our guests would love a place to charge their cellphones, so I brought in a ceramic stool from the sunroom and placed it between the two chairs that I shifted apart so the outlet was easily visible right behind the stool. Bam: cellphone charging central. Note: I’ve since come to my senses and removed the cute blue vase to actually make room for cell phones.
And in separating those chairs I nixed the faux sheepskin and brought over the two happy yellow pinwheel pillows for some easy balance. Of course we still have to hang some art above those chairs, but we’ll get there someday.
So that’s the room as it looks today with mom and Jack on the road from NY. Just for fun, here’s another shot of our cute little $1.25 closet door pull and the empty closet with a bunch of wood hangers just waiting for our guests:
The funny thing is that I’m pretty sure my mom would sleep on the floor for a chance to hang out with Clara, so she probably won’t even notice the walls or the curtains or the bedding because she’ll be so busy staring at the bean.
Speaking of our little helper, here she is hanging out while we hung the mirror above the bed.
Gotta love that girl. She already has an appreciation for rugs and other accessories.
Oh and since you know we love a good budget breakdown, here’s what we spent for the guest bedroom & adjoining guest bathroom makeover:
- Olympic Premium No-VOC primer: $12
- Olympic Premium No-VOC paint (color matched to Martha Stewart’s Plumage): $22
- Target bedskirt: $10
- Ikea curtains: $76 (around $19 a panel)
- Target curtain rods: $18
- Hobby Lobby closet knob: $1.25 (50% off thanks to a hardware sale)
- Target oil-rubbed bronze mirror: $49
- Target tray for luggage rack: $24
- Target table lamp: $19
- Target bathroom shower curtain: $20
- Target bathmat: $20
- Target Waterpik showerhead: $14
- Home Depot toilet seat: $12
- TOTAL: $297.25
Thanks to working with a ton of things that we already had (like our DIYed headboard, existing linens, the two slipper chairs, the ceramic drum stool, our yellow Pottery Barn rug, and our old bookcase) we came in well under a 1K Trading Spaces budget, even if you add our $488 bed purchase to the total above (which takes us to a grand total of $785.25). Now we just have to do a little last minute vacuuming and dusting before my mom swoops in and steals my child. That’s right, our family voted her as Most Likely To Steal Clara for a reason.