The State of the VIB

Long time – no see! We are back from our round the world trip – actually have been for a few months now. I have missed this space, but…you know how it goes. We’ve been busy setting up house, writing about our adventures over on House to Laos – our travel blog, and I have been looking for a new job (found).

Last month we took some photos of the State of the VIB, which I am super excited to share with you. This is how we live these days. (I have made some tweaks here and there since photos were taken, but you still get a good idea of where we are with the house). So that’s the number one and the most important reason for sharing. The other reason is that VIB is far from being done – and that’s apparent. The tin ceilings can use a fresh coat of paint, we really have to finish refinishing the banister, and a million other things should – at some point – get done. I want to document the intended Future Changes in order to keep notes, and of course, to keep ourselves accountable.

Also, introducing Objects Found: Beyond sharing our space, I wanted to highlight a few souvenirs we picked up on our adventures. Travel has become a pretty big part of our life, and one of the aspects that we both enjoy about far flung places is collecting all sorts of neat objects to bring back. Even traveling with carry on luggage for 14 months we managed to bring back a few souvenirs (actually, it wasn’t that hard, we would just pack a box and ship it as we went.) What can I say, we are materialists. I never claimed to see the meaning of life in experiences only — though that has certainly been special.

*All of the objects highlighted in this series have come either from our own travels, or friends’ travels. We have a lot of objects in our home – which we love – that were sourced much closer to home – either in DC or other places we’ve lived. If you are curious of anything else in the pictures, just let me know I am happy to providing background / sourcing info if it exists. (Maybe I will do another post on Objects Found in DC…)


State of the VIB: We still love the space, we use it a ton from cooking to entertaining. And I am glad because we’ve worked pretty hard on our kitchen – in fact the whole Phase II renovation started when we wanted to fix the slight slope and a bit of a gap between our floor and wall in the kitchen. And, no it wasn’t structural. At least that particular issue wasn’t. But once we opened up the floors and the ceiling in this part of the house though, it became pretty apparent that this was going to be a gut job. We documented the 8 month process pretty exhaustively here on the blog if you fancy a read.

Future Changes: Going forward, there are a couple of outstanding issues here that we need to address: the counter needs to be refinished after some bleach spillage accident, the banquette seat will need new upholstery at some point, and the tin ceilings really need a fresh coat of paint, which I am petrified of doing — might be a job for the professionals. Oh, and I would, kind of, really like a new stove.



Objects Found:

Kilim pillows – we picked up these in Ankara, Turkey. Who knows maybe they are manufactured in a factory in Bangladesh – but to me, they will always remind me of a fantastic month we spent traipsing around this country. We have a video of shopping for these guys too, the excitement is palpable.

Salt tagine – gifted to us by our Riad in Fez, Morocco. The Morocco trip wasn’t part of our 14 months RTW adventure – but actually came just a few months before. We traveled to see two very special friends get married, and it was totally dreamy. Also, I am dying to get back and explore more of this beautiful country.

Clay pot – currently used as a garlic holder. This little guy is actually originally a yogurt container. Picked up in France on our honeymoon. I have a whole collection of these, as of right now in use for homemade chicken liver pate.

Matryoshka cutting board – I prefer not to have pieces in the kitchen that I don’t use. Technically this cutting board falls into that category. But – its a gift from my mom, and came from Russia, and it’s got a lot of that what would you call it…Russian charm? I don’t know – but I like, so it stays )

Coffee tin filters – these came from Vietnam, and they are ubiquitous there. I love the Hanoi desert iced coffee with yogurt, and once it finally gets warm enough here in Washington DC, these will be used every day!

Pepper grinder – this little brass guy is visible in the shot where I am sitting at the kitchen bar. We picked it up in souvenir shop in Albania, only to discover them all over Turkey for one tenth the price. It’s a good reminder to us that even after a year of travel we totally fall for marketing gimmicks and have no bargaining skills to speak of.


State of the VIB: I am pretty proud of this room, because after we constructed the built-in shelves, it received minimal attention. Well actually, then we also added this Sputnik Chandelier, which looked awesome…in the daytime. Unfortunately, I neglected to read the Ikea specifications for the light, which only takes about 60W lightbulb. Not great for a room that’s already dark.

So when we got back, our big change here was swapping our the sputnik for a new light fixture. Now we have plenty of light for all of those large dinner parties that we like to host. We’ve also added a whole lot of craigslist finds to this room. A Phyfe-style drop leaf dining table, which functions as a console most of the time, and a lawyer’s bookcase to store my grandmother’s china. I think both of those pieces will get a new finish in time. Chairs and pouf are new additions as well, I am not sure they will stay.

Future Changes: The idea behind not putting a big dining table in the middle of this room was that we wouldn’t use it enough to justify turning over the room to only this purpose. But now, we still don’t use the room all that much. What to do? The plan is to adjust the layout and hopefully use this room a lot more for general hanging out by next winter when we have a functioning fireplace. That’s actually very soon in renovation speak, so I have all my fingers and toes crossed we make that deadline.We also have to fix the actual mantle it’s pretty brittle at this point – and the color has got to go. The poop brown is awful. Oh and the banister – or is that part of the hallway? We might change out the color of the room as well, though I have grown a bit partial to the Tucson Red…


Objects Found

Dhurrie: an impulse purchase somewhere in the desert land of Jodhpur, India. This 4×6 size that I swore up and down I would never buy. And somehow, in some far flung small village half way around the world from VIB, I imagined myself with a sunroom that contained a perfect nook for this rug. WE DON’T HAVE A SUNROOM. Maybe, one day we might have a porch. In my wild dreams we might have a pop up (uff!). But anyway, it’s here for now. And it has a great purchase story. I am not parting with it, I like looking at it, and it semi-works in here. One day it will find it’s perfect spot.

Antlers: These guys are a thrift store find from Austin, Texas. We went to visit friends, while Sergey also combined fun with work by attending SXSW, in 2013.

Sahara sand: Contained in the hurricane candle holder. One day I will find the perfect container. But after the sand was confined to a plastic pepsi bottle for a year and half, I am happy I can occasionally cast a glance over and remember our 7-year anniversary that we spend in the Sahara desert riding camels and sleeping in a tent.

Russian samovar: A present for our wedding from a very dear friend, authentic and all the way from Russia!

Tibetan tea pot: This guy, which is kind of hard to spot — it’s high up on the built-in –I picked up after seeing the same version used at a guesthouse and cafe in Tagong village in China. When I first saw it sitting on a a wood stove in the guesthouse cafe, I was certain it was some beautiful, vintage item gifted to our host by some villagers. Nope, purchased brand new. So I got exact directions for the shop in the next village over. We hitched several rides to get there and then a few more to make it to our next destination, but it was worth it. Can’t wait to use it on our wood burning stove insert next winter (which is part of the fireplace plan).

Belgrade watercolor painting: This is a first piece of art we purchased together. It happened to be in Belgrade, Serbia. Something spoke to both of us, so we decided that it was time we start to invest in pieces we really love. We only spent two days in Belgrade, but despite that, this on-the-spot decision still feels right. Here’s to a future collection!


State of the VIB: This room has come a loooong way from when we purchased the house in 2010. We hang here almost as much as the kitchen. The room’s layout hasn’t changed much over the years, but we did make a few tweaks when we got back. I painted the room Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath, and the color is stunning. (I am never purchasing any other paint brand, btw). We’ve added second hand coffee table, couch, and the leather Eames style chair, which are pretty comfy.

Future CHanges: The big debate here isn’t about layout or big changes — though per usual those might happen along the way. What we are talking about is a TV. Or lack thereof. We will never go back to living with cable. BUT, sometimes it’s nice to stream a movie or a basketball game. Occasionally I read in here, we have blog powwows, or we hang on the couch and stream suff on our computer — would be nicer on a tv. but then, would it take over the room? I flipflop on my answer either way every time I think about it. Maybe a new media console would resolve the debate? The we could see how the room would look like with / without a tv…

A few other things for the future living room. We have lights that are supposed to go above the couch. Now we need to install them. I would like to reupholster the armchair. Does anyone in the area have an upholsterer recommendation? I think I might swap out the couch for a sectional. We need to re-hang our pocket doors — any master restoration carpenters out there? Oh, and saving the most expensive for last — windows. Our plastic beauties came with the house at the time of purchase – it would be lovely to get an upgrade. Anyone want to sponsor?

Objects found:

Kilim – Our most expensive “object” purchase to date. I still shudder about how we turned over our credit card like that…It was in Bombay and we’ve had copious amounts of delicious apple tea (or some other fruity tea, it’s all kind of a blur). I think I had too many cups and it went to my head. Or I just had to go to the bathroom. But anyway, this Afghan beaut arrived home before us and waited patiently while we finished our trip.

Berber rug – Small little guy under the eames chair. I love the unusual pattern. The shopkeeper in Morocco assured us it was all hand-knotted and perfected by the Berber village.

Bust – Possibly my favorite souvenir we picked up on our travels. The bust of Cambodia’s King Suryavarman II (I think that’s correct) was made by a sculptor who survived the horrors of Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. I loved the people of Cambodia, so this bust is a perfect reminder of our time there.

Vase – Our friends brought this traditional red and white vase back from Romania for us.

Lacquered tray – Lacquer ware is a traditional craft in Myanmar, and we picked up this try after stopping by many family run workshops outside of Bagan.

Ok, so I guess that about does it. The bedrooms aren’t really show-able right now, and the bathrooms, well they are neat, but pretty much unchanged.

Future Changes: I really hope to be back over here on the blog with more posts in coming weeks. I have picked up a new hobby – furniture auctions, so I have some insights and finds to share on that count. In other news, we are preparing for VIB Phase III renovation. We would love to add a master bath, and dig out our basement. At this point, ideas are only in my head and over on the pinterest page (look for all boards marked – Well Designed). However, I plan to sit down and draw out some plans before bringing in professionals for official blueprints and such. Of course, blogging our way through that is a must.

Ok, so that’s that – a mini life update on where we are now that barely scratches the surface. Excited to be back! Oh and on one more front – I am hoping we get to updating the design and formatting for this site at some point semi-soon, so you know, it looks semi-good.