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Archive for January, 2013

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IMG_3158On Bergen Street between Smith and Court Streets, hidden up a few stairs and behind a nondescript door, lies one of my favorite Brooklyn antique shops, Fork + Pencil. It is not the flagship location – which is right around the corner on Court Street – instead it is the newer warehouse store, focusing on furniture and artwork. And theoretically, it is not actually an antiques shop, but officially a consignment shop. The mix is eclectic, but there is always something interesting to be found. What makes the place special is the owner Alex and its mission – all profits after expenses go to charity. While this is good unto itself, I think it creates a unique shopping experience and better quality merchandise gets consigned there – people like to see their goods doing good.

The main floor is always a mix of large items with accessory displays covering every horizontal surface, artwork and mirrors on all the walls and chandeliers hanging everywhere. Eras and styles are all jumbled together in a highly enjoyable smorgasbord.

fork and pencil 1

Intriguing arched shelving unit mounted on a console table.

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Mid-century mixes with colonial.

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Such a variety of lamps, like the pottery one above and this book stack one below…

stack of books lamp

…and this nicely miss-matched pair of cobalt bottles can be found everywhere.

cobalt blue glass bottle lamps

One of F + P’s specialties is porcelain and pottery. Lots of Staffordshire, Asian ceramics, like the big Imari bowl here, lustreware, Sevres and other French porcelain, and the list goes on.

fork and pencil imari

A favorite find is this giant polychrome transferware bowl. Birds and blossoms in the same place!

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Their other great strength is art – etchings, engravings and all kinds of small works on paper, priced so well as to be worth more even than just their frames.

fork and pencil rose

Loved these antique carriage prints. Very Georgette Heyer!

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The basement is more of an adventure than the upstairs and usually looks something like this, but there are always treasures to be unearthed with a little effort.

fork and pencil basement

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A case in point – it doesn’t get better than this – a George Smith standard armchair found nestled in a back corner…

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…and now nestling right here. Fresh from a Southampton estate, that chair lists for somewhere in the $6000 range new and even on sale rings up around $4000. Planning to re-cover it, but for now it looks great.

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The artwork finds have been outstanding, including this Brooklyn view with its charming French mat and the small Chinese gouache below.

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And an art triple play over just 2 visits yielded these…

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…and this…

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…and these…

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…which mixed with this new offering from Dash & Albert, the Garden Path runner, and some beautiful antique lace curtains, has created an instantly decorated laundry room for about $500.

Garden Path Dash Albert hooked rug

There is a nice article about Alex and the founding of the stores in the South Brooklyn Post. And the original store around the corner is well worth checking out – many of the valuable “smalls” end up there.

Fork + Pencil
Warehouse: 18 Bergen Street
Main Store: 221a Court Street
Brooklyn New York 11201
718 488 8855  |  info@forkandpencil.com
Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 7

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New cabinets = giant chunk of kitchen renovation budget. There is no escaping that equation. But no matter how big or small the kitchen is, one still needs a dishwasher, range, refrigerator, etc. so the relative ratio of expense for cabinets is lower in a small kitchen like the one I am working on. One of the good things about a small kitchen is that there simply aren’t that many cabinets involved, so it helps to keep the price down. That said, the existing cabinets are not that bad, so there needs to be a real improvement in space, organization and looks to make the change worthwhile.

It’s easy to pick out images that I know represent my client’s dream kitchen. Over and over again, it’s simple white Shaker-style cabinets with white stone counters. Invariably, the kitchens we love have inset doors on the cabinets – if you go back to the previous posts on this project you’ll see that is almost always the case. For those of you not familiar with this term, it means the cabinet doors are inset into the cabinet box, framed, like a piece of furniture, rather than attached over and covering the cabinet box. Sometimes the door hinges are hidden, like the ones in Michelle’s Mill Valley kitchen here.

Michelle Mill Valley kitchen on remodelista

michelle mill valley kitchen

Other times the hinges are visible on the inset doors like these here…

white kitchen glass cabinets via decor pad muse interiors

…and here. The Sheila Bridges kitchen has inset doors with exposed hinges too.

Carol Lalli kitchen HB

So what’s the conundrum here you ask? The problem is that inset doors on cabinets can cause you to lose space – not a lot – just an inch here or there – but considering the size of the kitchen we are working with – we feel like we can’t afford to lose any! The drawer units in particular lose width space from the framing, while the door units less so, although they do lose a bit of depth. Inset doors also tend to me more expensive – many are custom – but again price isn’t so much the issue as the kitchen is small. Space is the real issue we keep returning to.

In general we never like the overlay doors. Overlay doors tend to look like they came from box stores to me – ready made and much less like real furniture. The owner’s current kitchen has blond wood overlay cabinets – here’s the photo to remind you. These are at least “full overlay” in which you don’t see any of the cabinet box peeking out from the doors. I’m not going to even mention “partial overlay” cabinet doors – it would give us all some bad 1970s nightmares.

Brooklyn kitchen

In trying to justify overlay panels we keep returning to Molly Frey’s portfolio. She routinely uses overlay doors and in fact, all the kitchens of her designs that I’ve seen use the same exact white cabinets.

white ktichen with right faucets and sink reeded inset panels on drawer door

See how the overlay doors almost touch and you see none of the surrounding framework? Some people prefer this look, particularly in modern design kitchens. You can also see that it maximizes the available space. I think the key to overlay doors is purchasing high-grade cabinets with a really nice paint finish. One thing to be cautious of with overlay panels is some of the mechanisms, for instance soft-close drawers, can be set in deeply on the sides, causing a loss of space. It would be depressing if we chose them for space reasons, only to be sabotaged by deeply set in drawers.

Molly Frey kitchen

I did have what I thought was a genius idea, but it turns out many others have had it too. Why not use inset doors on the upper cabinets for style reasons – those are the ones that really get looked at and the space loss is minimal – and overlay panels on all the lower units, which are predominantly drawers? It’s definitely something to consider.

One of the inspiration kitchens we love is Joan’s New Hampshire kitchen here, which seems to have some sort of hybrid between overlay and inset doors.  No surprise that these were custom built by a cabinet maker – if only we could get him to move from New Hampshire to Brooklyn.

Joan's kitchen

Joan's kitchen glass door cabinets

So the big questions are whether we care more about looks or space. What say you all? Form or function?

Related Posts:
Form Versus Function…White Marble Countertops? Really?
Form Versus Function…A Farmhouse Sink and That Perrin & Rowe Bridge Mixer Faucet
Brownstone Kitchen Inspiration From Sheila Bridges

Thoughts for 2013…Matisse at The Met, Comfort and Kitchens

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One of the main components of the Brooklyn kitchen renovation I am working on is white stone countertops of some sort. In the Sheila Bridges inspiration photos, heck, all of our inspiration photos, the counters are white marble. My clients are amazing cooks – or shall we say “he” is an amazing cook – a hard working and hard wearing cook – who doesn’t always worry about spills along the way. Their current counter is a dark man-made material, so there has been no need to worry about wiping up that turmeric right away or stressing over the coffee and red wine served daily. That said, spills against a dark surface don’t show so you don’t feel as prompted to wipe them up immediately. The “she” of the household is a wonderful baker and marble counters are perfect for rolling out dough. So while we love the look of white marble countertops, and know they are great for baking, we worry whether they are actually functional for cooking? Won’t they stain, etch, show every little imperfection? Don’t they demand slavish care?

In the home decorating world these questions rank up there with other biggies like “What is the meaning of life?”

As a result, many have addressed this topic already and addressed it very well. The folks over at Apartment Therapy have wrestled with it numerous times and have hundreds of pro and con comments on their site. A low-key looking site called The Garden Web is an outstanding source of information with numerous threads on the topic (for instance here,). Searching the web I found amazing posts such as the one from Greg at The Petch House (he’s restoring an 1895 Victorian) in which he tests a piece of marble, both sealed and unsealed, with the its classic nemeses – red wine, acidic fruit and tomato sauce. Two years later, he reports that his counters have held up extremely well without a lot of special care.

petch house marble test

So while white marble has a bad rap as being hard to care for, my instincts tell me that while this can be true, it can’t be the whole truth. Marble has been used for centuries for counters, tables and floors and held up extremely well during that time. Personally, a little patina makes everything better in my book. Research around the web, particularly the many first hand accounts in this vein on Garden Web…

You need to do a search on Marble threads in this forum – there are MANY of us who have marble countertops (mostly honed) and LOVE them and have no staining issues at all.”

…make me optimistic about considering a white marble. Marble is simply calcium carbonate, just like chalk, but in a compressed and crystallized form. It’s the calcium in it that makes it easily etched by acid. But it does seem that sealants have come a long way in the last few years in preventing etching and staining.  Honing the counter which is the matte finish I prefer, rather than polishing it to a shine, also helps in the battle against marks.

In terms of choosing what type of marble, trust Joni at Cote de Texas to have covered the choices pretty exhaustively in her post on the subject. She chose Calacutta Ora for her remodel.

joni kitchen marble

But before we rush into the choice, it’s a big enough decision that full research is necessary. As I am not a geologist, it has taken me a while to understand the differences between marble, granite, quartzite and manmade quartz materials such as Silestone, Cambria and Caesarstone. Granite is the hardest of the stones and the most resistant to staining and etching. But it doesn’t come in a true white and tends to be very busy and speckled, as opposed to veined. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock formed from sandstone and tends to be white and greys. It is more stain resistant than marble, but has been known to etch if calcium is present and it is unsealed. That said, when sealed it looks to be a very good option. The different brands of engineered quartz all seem good and hold up to the staining and etching tests, but they look artificial to my eye, certainly in a more traditional kitchen. Cate at Girl Cooks World has done a fantastic (and very recent) post comparing many of the stone and stone like options currently available out there, but we will need to go see them all in person ourselves.

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Even after choosing the material we want, in the end, the choice will come down to seeing the exact slab for this kitchen. The variations in the marbles and quartz are so extreme that samples are only indicative, not conclusive. One Garden Web forum poster chose to use Bianco Macabus quartzite because of this exact slab at their stone yard. I can see why.

White Macabus quartzite

I’ll keep you up to date on what we discover, but I am hoping to hear from all of you too. The comments on my previous post about the sink and faucet were so helpful.

Related Posts:
Form Versus Function…A Farmhouse Sink and That Perrin & Rowe Bridge Mixer Faucet
Brownstone Kitchen Inspiration From Sheila Bridges

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