Project Reveal: Dining Room Fit for a Feast with a Side of Ping Pong

Recently I finished working on the home of my amazing clients Boe + Sophie Hayward. They are just the coolest people, and also parents to 3 kids under the age of five and a dog-baby, who make raising a family look like a total breeze.

When I met them, they’d purchased their current home just over a year earlier, and had run out of steam after decorating most spaces (they upsized from a smaller home), and what was left over were the formal living room and formal dining room. In this post I’ll show the Before & After for the dining room:

NOZNOZNOZ - Avenues Family Home - Dining BEFORE

I also happened to visit during the holidays, so all my “Before” photos show the family’s ridiculously extensive collection of Nutcrackers. The table, while beautiful, didn’t fit with their style goals for this room, and was too small. The giant china hutch is a hand-me-down from one of their parents’ homes, and the super-cool Graham’s beverage cooler ended up in the formal living room.

… and AFTER: Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 1

What inspired me about Boe + Sophie’s vision for the room was how versatile they wanted their hosting spaces to be. As super-versatile people, they wanted their formal dining room to be stylish but comfortable – to be a space that guests loved to be in… and linger in.

Our process started with finding the right dining table. Boe’s ideal situation was for us to put a regulation-sized ping pong dining table in the space. For the record, that is a massive table for a San Francisco home: 5′ x 9′!!!! But the room was large enough, so I said, let’s go for it! After reviewing a number of options (surprisingly there are a number of ping pong dining tables in all different styles), we selected the Winston table from Venture Shuffleboard – made in the US of solid Walnut with Maple insets. And let me just say, this table is STUNNING and beautifully crafted.

Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 2

As the house’s floor plan is very open, we opted to keep the walls in the dining room the same color as the adjacent sitting room + kitchen. That meant we could go with a bold color for the rug. Since Boe and Sophie’s three kids are all very young, I recommended a nice-looking but affordable rug (literally less than $400 and it’s 100% wool!) that they wouldn’t be afraid of having ruined. A big bonus for me was that Sophie loves this rug’s design!

Next was chairs: I found a beautiful set of 8 vintage walnut + wool chairs from my pals at Midcentury Møbler in San Francisco, and then for the head-of-table chairs, I juxtaposed the midcentury modern vibe with Scandinavian modern chairs designed by Hem. I love these leather scoop chairs, and I love that they kind of feel like baseball gloves (Boe is a major SF Giants fan). The woods on these chairs work with both woods in the dining table.

Side note: I'm pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward height + depth, but I think we made it work.

Side note: I’m pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward, unaccommodating height + depth, but I think we made it work. The ping pong gear goes in the little bucket on the 4th shelf.

Finally, lighting: the “before” chandelier was not working with the space – too small, too chrome, and hung too high. In keeping with the midcentury modern vibe, we went with a large Sputnik pendant in black metal, and then hung it just low enough that it feels like a part of the space, but just high enough that it doesn’t interfere with fierce table tennis matches (at least so far).

Boe and Sophie also asked about what to put on the wall. With the china hutch moved out, the room felt much bigger, but the wall felt empty. My idea was mirrors, because the formal dining room happens to get the least natural light vs. the other rooms on the ground floor, and the mirrors would bounce back light during the day and in evenings when the Sputnik light is on. Rather than go with one large mirror, we went with three in leather frames that nod to the leather chairs. Their scale is just enough to add visual interest to the wall without competing with the table and the delicious food to be served on it.

I was SO delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that the mirrors look like ping pong paddles!

Also, I was delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that I selected mirror frames that echo the shape of ping pong paddles!

And that’s it! What do you think of the idea of a multi-use dining table? I personally use mine as a makeshift “work table” when my desk is too small.

Next up: the project reveal for this same family’s formal living room!

DIY: Painted My Outdoor Deck + Railings BLACK

Over the weekend, Hedge and I painted our deck + metal railings black. The joke is that I ran out of walls in the apartment to paint black, so I took my obsession outside. But it’s not a joke, because that’s actually what happened.

Tada!!

Tada!! (A typical bright + sunny summer day in San Francisco… ha)

Since moving into Chez Noz in 2010, I’ve gone through various stages of falling in and out of love with my deck: first, “Omg I’m just so happy and grateful to have outdoor space in a city!” Then, “Ugh maintenance of the deck is daunting. I shall avoid!” (which I did for over 3 years). Then, “Ugh I hate the railings – they look like prison bars – I need to replace them with fancy cable railings or I won’t be able to concentrate on my life.” To finally, “Okay, can’t afford to change the railings with my super-baby-DIY budget. What else can I do?”

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there.

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there. Don’t the unpainted metal railings look terrible?

I was also troubled with what to do about the burn damage mark on the deck, from when Hedge accidentally set his lit charcoal chimney down.

Then, an epiphany from the burn mark: I remembered how much I love shou-sugi-ban – a Japanese practice of charring wood for outdoor applications. The charring makes the wood rot- and pest-resistant, and also makes it beautifully black. So I decided, “Omg let’s paint everything outside black!!” I figured black would also make the existing railings feel more modern and sleek, which was my goal anyway with previously wanting new cable railings.

And now that it’s done I’m suuuuuper happy with the final results:

Closer look at the deck boards

Closer look at the deck boards + Viv’s lil face

TOTAL COST: $87! (Well, we only paid $77, but it WOULD have cost $87)

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paint in Glossy Black (they SUCK), and 5 cans of Rust-Oleum “2x” paint + primer in Glossy Black.

Besides the deck paint (~$52 for a gallon) and spray paint (it took 7 full cans of spray paint, $5/can, but we only paid for 5 cans of the “2X” which is why we only spent $25 on spray paint vs. $35. Will explain in a bit about the Universal spray cans), we already had everything we needed from previous paint projects. Here’s the full supply list:

  • Deck paint (a gallon of the Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint will more than cover 2 coats of a 200+ square foot project. Our deck is about 110 square feet)
  • Paint roller + a paint tray for the roller
  • Paint brush for the trim work
  • Optional: a pole for the roller, so you can stand up while painting the deck (I just unscrewed the pool off a broom – the threads from broom handles tend to be the same as what screws into a paint roller)
  • Spray paint that works outdoors and on metal (we needed 7 cans for 2 coats along ~25 linear feet of railings – your quantity needed will vary based on how close together your balusters are)
  • Sand paper (medium + fine grit) and steel wool

We went with a top-down strategy and prepped + painted the railings first, then the deck.

First, prep work: we brought all the furniture, Hedge’s Weber smoker, and planters inside. Then we swept the deck. The most painstaking and time-consuming part of this project was prepping the railings, which is basically cleaning + sanding them (to remove rust and to prep the surface so the paint adheres). Side note: sanding metal railings SUCKS. Steel wool, or any metal abrasive, grating against another metal surface, is like nails on a chalkboard that you feel in your hands the entire time.

Next, we spray painted the railings, starting with the top rail, then the balusters, then the bottom rail. For all my previous posts about spray painting DIY projects, the railings were BY FAR the most ambitious spray painting endeavor I’ve completed so far. Two full coats, then touch-up for spots that we missed or were under-covered.

Pro Tip: get started prepping the railings early in the morning. That way you can start spray painting before afternoon winds pick up. Once the winds came, it was just comical to watch paint fly another direction and not hit the railings, so we had to finish up the next morning.

Product Tip: DO NOT use Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paints. The coverage + quality of the paint is great, but the trigger nozzle is AWFUL. Within the first minutes of use, we realized the paint was leaking out of the trigger all over our hands, and every time we shook the cans (you need to shake spray cans regularly during use – see my other spray painting tips), paint was dripping and splattering ALL OVER the deck. In our case, we were going to paint the deck anyway so it was okay. But I would be livid otherwise. We returned the two Universal spray cans to the store (which is why they didn’t hit our budget), but not before this:

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

After we finished the 2 coats of spray paint on the railings, we moved on to the deck. We swept the deck again and used a spackling blade to get any pebbles or debris out from between the deck boards. Then I sanded down the burn mark aggressively to make sure that surface was smooth. Luckily the rest of the boards are still in good shape and don’t have splinters.

Painting a deck is pretty simple: like painting walls, you do the trim work first with a brush, then use the roller to fill in. The trick is to paint from the farthest side first, then move backwards closer and closer to the door, so that you don’t paint yourself in without a way to get off the deck while it’s wet. For good measure, we painted two full coats – but the coverage with the BM Floor & Patio was very good after just 1 coat. The other amazing thing about the Floor & Patio line is you can pick just about any shade that Benjamin Moore offers in its indoor paints. We chose Onyx because it’s a more dynamic color than Benjamin Moore “Black.”

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat!

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat! The wonky sheen differences = sections drying differently because of the shade.

We also happened to paint directly over the stain that we applied about 20 months earlier. The stain was pretty worn down / no longer really sealing the boards from water, even though the red color was still there. Since our previous stain was water-based, it should be totally okay that we just painted over it without stripping the stain first (time will tell if this was in fact a huge mistake). If the stain had been oil-based, though, we’d have had to sand down and strip the deck boards first before painting.

However – since we painted over the stain, the paint actually took quite a bit longer than I expected to set in and dry. If we had completely sanded + stripped the deck boards, I think the paint would have dried and set faster.

We gave it a full 2 days before putting all the furniture + planters back out, but now that things are put back together, OMG I LOVE IT. The black deck feels so chic, and so unusual. It also has become such a cool blank canvas: the teal Acapulco chair looks SO rad now (rather than when the teal had to compete with a red deck).  And my little Black Rose Aeoniums look so rich and vibrant now:

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black versus my other succulents. Now they feel newly rich with color.

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black, but I LOVE their colors now against the black railings.

There are, of course, a few side effects to having painted everything black: the deck is hotter to walk on now (because, black), and if my shoes are a little dusty, they leave footprints more visibly. BUT, we live in San Francisco – it never gets that hot, and it’s a city, so dirt happens. Other than that, I’m thrilled with the end results and can’t wait to throw a “Deck Viewing Party” (aka: BBQ) later this summer.

What do you think?? Would you ever go #allblackallover outdoors?

Project Reveal: Black + White Kitchen + Dining Corner

When my friends and former colleagues (from when I was a toilet cleaner brand marketer (like actually – my face was in the news about it)) asked me to design and manage the renovation of their kitchen and dining area, it was a dream opportunity. It’s always such an honor to get to design spaces for my friends, but Abby and Kurt are the chicest, most stylish couple ever, so I knew this project would be an epic collaboration.

Their house in the classic SF neighborhood of Nob Hill is adorable and petite at 14 feet wide. And while Abby and Kurt have applied their style to the upstairs living spaces, the kitchen and dining space downstairs remained as it looked when they moved in years ago: dark, busy, bullnose counters, red cherry wood cabinets, limited space for relaxed seating, and not a lot of direct sunlight. It was time for an update.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen BEFORE

The design brief was basically, “Our style is Dorothy-Draper-meets-Tom-Ford – Hollywood Regency. Bold. Drama. SHINE. Also please take the weird stained glass panels off the kitchen window.” Here’s how it turned out:

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen 2

For my very first complete-scope kitchen renovation, I’m super proud of our finished product. And we haven’t even talked about the dining corner yet (I’ll get to it in a bit)!

Because the kitchen was in good working order and occupies such a small footprint, we were able to splurge on really luxurious finishes like solid-slab Calacatta marble counters and a marble tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern. We also went with fab polished brass hardware – bamboo-esque drawer pulls à la Hollywood Regency, and large “Minnie Mouse” round knobs.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Details

Also please notice Abby + Kurt’s ADORABLE Wisconsin-state cutting board, which Kurt immediately noted I had positioned upside-down in this shot!

AND, since the cabinets were only several years old and quality-built of solid wood, we opted to spare the expense (and the waste!) of refacing the cabinets (refacing = replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones). Instead, we refinished them in a high-gloss white for the upper cabinets and a high-gloss black for the lower cabinets. I love that the black cabinets are so shiny that you can often see reflections of the hardware in them.

Another way we maximized the budget was with the counters: Abby really loves Calacatta marble, and in kitchens, it’s stunning; but also it’s expensive at $90-130+ per square foot. We needed much less than a slab (you have to buy whole slabs, which are 40–50 square feet each) for their counters, so I found one with big grey sections (“flaws”) at a FRACTION the cost, and then we just cut around the grey to use only the most beautiful parts! NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Calacatta Vagli slab

Now for the dining area: Abby and Kurt’s one specific must-have was to create a custom L-shaped bench seat in the dining corner so that they could lounge in the space in addition to eat. Other than that, the goal was to bring to life their vision and style in the space.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Breakfast 3

Super fab brass light fixture by triple7recycled | custom L-shaped bench by Joybird | Kartell Ghost chairs

First off, I just absolutely love the black + white stripes. They start from the mirrored wall and continue all the way down the entry hallway to the front door – making the petite lil house feel much deeper. Abby’s Pinboard had several photos of homes with stripes, so when I presented the idea of the black + white walls with a black + white kitchen, it was like, “When can we start?”

As for the L-bench, I opted for a piece that looked more like furniture rather than a built-in, to keep the dining corner feeling light. The Kelly Green upholstery is amazing because Kurt has the coolest suede loafers in the same color. I mean honestly, if you saw these two in this space, you wouldn’t know where their personal fashion sense ended and their interior design sensibilities began.

We also replaced their larger rectangular dining table with an oval tulip to allow easier entry/exit to/from the bench, and went with Ghost chairs for the additional seating because they disappear visually, which helps the kitchen-dining area feel spacious.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Full onAnd there you have it – a lot of design in a little space, for a fabulous couple with a ton of style. Hope you enjoy! You can see more photos of this project on my design website, all of which were taken by the amazing Colin Price Photography.

How to Remove Graffiti from Your Building

Graffiti is pretty much everywhere. Sometimes it’s artistic, sometimes it’s drug/crime-related, and sometimes it’s just petty vandalism; but if you live in a city long enough, it often just becomes visual white noise – part of the texture of our urban landscape.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti before stairs

Graffiti on the inside wall of my building’s front stoop. Does anyone know if this is code for something?

… Until it shows up on my building. Then I’m pissed. I live on a “gentrifying” block of Hayes Valley in San Francisco where I’m surrounded on all sides by housing projects and a halfway house for ex-convicts. It’s usually a very quiet part of town, where everyone’s respectful of each other, quiet after 10pm, and fellow neighbors watch out for the block. But occasionally, you’ll wake up and someone has tagged “GIVE” twice on your building.

The problem with tagging is that it needs to be removed as soon as you discover it – not just because it’s easier to get spray paint / marker off the sooner you get at it, but also because if the tag is drug-related, leaving the tag there is a territorial signal to other drug traffickers in the area – and it could encourage additional tags to be graffiti’d over the original one (see also: the broken windows theory). In fact, some cities require building owners to remove graffiti within 3 days, or they’ll face a fine.

So, removing graffiti isn’t really one of those “I’ll get to it eventually” chores. The good news is the first removal step (which is the most critical – getting the graffiti off) takes like 5 minutes.

STEP 1: REMOVE THE TAG ITSELF

REMOVING PAINT ON WALLS: Usually, an ordinary paint thinner or paint remover does the trick in removing spray paint or regular-paint tags. Load up a rag with paint thinner, and if needed, bring in some steel wool or an abrasive sponge to help get stubborn paint off. There’s a good chance, though, that after you’re done, that area will still just look like there was graffiti recently removed (as opposed to looking like the graffiti had never been there).

REMOVING PAINT ON METAL SURFACES / POWDER-COATED METAL: Just like on painted walls, spray paint on metal / powder-coated metal usually comes out with paint thinner or paint remover. But if it is being stubborn, there is actually a product specifically intended to remove graffiti. We have it for our building (literally, simply, called “Graffiti Off”), and whatever’s in it, it works.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti Off

Online, you can only buy a 6-pack case of Graffiti Off. We got our bottle at the local hardware store.

REMOVING PERMANENT MARKER: If someone has graffitied your building with a Sharpie or other permanent marker, 1) they need to be slapped – it’s much harder than spray paint to remove; and 2) skip the paint thinner and go straight for the “Graffiti Off.” On metals, spray the graffiti remover directly on the tag, and rub it off with a rag. That should do the trick. On a painted wall, remove as much of the marker as you can with Graffiti Off, and then just skip to Step 2.

STEP 2: PAINT THE WALL OVER AGAIN

Because paint thinner / graffiti remover takes off spray paint, it will probably remove part of your actual building paint along with it (which is partially why, after Step 1, the area that was graffitied still won’t look right). And so hopefully, you, your building, or your landlord has leftover exterior paint. If not, grab a bunch of paint chips, color-match as best you can (don’t forget to note the finish – flat, eggshell, etc.), and get a high-quality exterior paint.

Then, wipe down the once-graffitied area w/ water and a little dish soap (to remove any residual paint thinner/remover), let it dry, and paint as you would normally with a roller.

Voila! The paint was still drying while I took this photo, so please pardon the splotchiness.

Voila! The paint was still drying while I took this photo, so please pardon the splotchiness. You can also see that the roller didn’t fit under the handrail, and I just left it because I didn’t have a brush at the time.

PRO TIP: Paint as much of the wall as you possibly can – not just where you took the graffiti off. Building exteriors fade really quickly because of weather and sunlight, so there’s a good chance that even if you have an exact paint match, it won’t look exact once applied. THAT is the great pain of graffiti removal – the only way to conceal the new paint and keep your wall from looking previously graffiti’d is to paint the whole wall over again.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti After - garage and bannister

Here’s how different my building’s paint looks – the 2nd “GIVE” tag was to the right of the garage door. So I painted over that wall, the stoop bannister, and the wall with the mailboxes on it, up until I couldn’t reach anymore. There you can see the faded grayer older paint line.

On the bright side, taking care of this chore renewed my sense of pride in being a homeowner – and I broke a sweat before 10am on a Saturday! So there you have it: 2 steps to removing graffiti from your building and retain your sanity living in an urban setting.