home life – kitchen

One thing I knew my new home had to have was lots of kitchen counter space. I love to cook. I love baking for people. And I make a seriously delicious cheesecake. So abundant counter space was a must. Also a window. You would be surprised how hard it is to find an apartment with windows in both the bathroom and kitchen. Very rare in downtown Manhattan. When I saw what would become my new kitchen, I knew it was a gem:

kitchen before

Okay, this before picture doesn’t look like the shiniest gem. But I knew it would sparkle after renovations. The first thing we had to do was get rid of the gold and navy wall tiles. And the refrigerator and stove. They were both new, but I wanted stainless steel appliances that would be even with the counter. The original stove and refrigerator stuck out too much.

Once they were removed, my team of contractors used the empty spaces to store materials and stick their clothes overnight. This is something I didn’t know about contractors. They totally get changed in the kitchen! Their work clothes stay at the apartment. Kind of like a Mr. Rogers sweater/sneaker thing. During those weeks we were living together, I walked in on more than one guy stripping down in front of the sink. It’s all about the bonding. Here you can see my tile guy’s work shirt and shoes after he left for the day:

kitchen demolition

The original dark blue floor tiles had to go. Like the bathroom, I wanted the kitchen to be shiny white with pops of color (mainly red, which has been my kitchen accent color of choice for years). My architect wanted to extend the new hardwood floors into the kitchen to create a streamlined effect. I’m so thankful he pointed me in that direction because the results look really beautiful. The cabinets were relatively new, so I kept them and had them painted glossy white. Which required the doors to be removed by my painter. I left my dishes and things wrapped in newspaper so they wouldn’t get dusty from the other work being done. The kitchen looked like this for about two weeks:

kitchen demolition

The glossy white tiles were in. The new sink faucet was in. The new outlets were almost in. I kept the dishwasher and Corian countertops since they were in excellent shape. And already white!

Here’s the kitchen after picture to the left (featuring my retro snow cone machine)…

kitchen after

…and the kitchen after picture to the right:

kitchen after

Finding that matching Fisher & Paykel stove/refrigerator set was not easy. I was without a stove for a long time during that whole drama. You can read about the stove drama here if you missed my rant last summer.

All this counter space is making me giddy. I had the best time baking Christmas cookies. My building has a staff of 12 (concierge, doormen, super, assistant super, porters) and they all got cookies. Plus I baked some for my friends. Six hours and 200 cookies later, my place smelled like sugar and almonds. It was bliss. I hope you’re having a sweet holiday time, too!

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serendipity day

December 20 means it’s time to celebrate Serendipity Day! I’m reposting my annual tribute to share the magic of this very special day with you. Here’s to fate, soul mates, and always following your heart.

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Today is Serendipity Day, aka Serendipity Do-Da, aka Do-Da Day.

You would probably like an explanation.

If you didn’t see the movie Serendipity, then not to be bossy? But you really need to go ahead and do that. It’s all about fate and destiny and energy and has some awesome New York scenes. Even if you did see it, you probably didn’t pick up on the fact that Jonathan and Sara meet on December 20. I’m obsessive about those sorts of details, so I totally did. And immediately made a note that December 20 will always and forever be known as Serendipity Day.

When they meet, Jonathan and Sara are in Bloomingdale’s trying to grab the same pair of gloves. You know how sometimes you meet someone and there’s this instant, amazing connection? That’s what happens to them. So of course they can’t just go their separate ways. They have to go to Serendipity 3 (which is only a few blocks away – love the accuracy) for frozen hot chocolates. And then they go ice skating in Central Park. It’s one of those magical New York nights, filled with excitement and possibility.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Serendipity

But then.

When Jonathan writes down his number for Sara, the wind blows it away. She thinks it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Or at least, not right now. She’s all about fate and destiny. So she makes him write his name and number on the back of a five-dollar bill, which she immediately uses to buy mints. Sara’s idea is that if the five-dollar bill makes its way back to her, then they’re meant to be together.

Good, right?

If you’ve read Something Like Fate, you can understand why I love this movie. I love it so much that my friend Joe and I celebrate Serendipity Day by reenacting the original Serendipity Day’s events. First, we put our names in at Serendipity. There’s usually a three-hour wait for a table. I’m not exaggerating. Around the holidays, is it a gorgeous winter wonderland in there, all sparkly lights and trees and tinsel. Everyone wants in. But it’s cool because we need those three hours for the rest of the events. We head over to Bloomingdale’s, where we both grab a pair of gloves at the same glove counter. That counter doesn’t have gloves anymore so we have to bring the gloves over, but it still counts. Then it’s off to Wollman Rink in Central Park. It is always the Coldest Night Ever when we do this. I don’t know how to ice skate, so we kind of just stand there and watch the glittery skyline and send positive energy out into the Universe.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Then it’s frozen hot chocolate time! In the movie, Jonathan and Sara get red and blue straws in theirs. But we always get regular straws. So I asked about the red and blue ones and found out that they don’t have those anymore. But those frozen hot chocolates are the best in the world, so who cares? If Joe and I are each at a point in our lives where we’re single, we take out a five-dollar bill and write our name and number on the back. Then we give them to the waiter as part of his tip. Not that anyone ever called us. But that’s not the point. The point is that we put our energy out there. The city is magic. It makes magical things happen.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager, reunited

So. How can you celebrate the Do-Da Day if you’re not here in New York? Well, if you’re already with your soul mate, you can make frozen hot chocolates and call it a day. But if you are still searching, send positive energy out into the Universe today. Take some time to write in your journal. Visualize what you want life to be like with your soul mate. And make a plan to take steps towards finding them. All of these things will help you get closer to turning your dream into reality.

Oh, and P.S.? Serendipity is also home of the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, served in a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you get to take home), made with the world’s most expensive chocolate, and covered in 23K edible gold leaf:

Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity

Happy Serendipity Day!

home life – office

I was planning to share before and after pictures of my kitchen with you next. But the past few days have been cloudy and I want to post sunny after pics! Plus I’m super excited to share my shiny new home office with you. So today is all about the office. Which contains lots of official Office merchandise. Shocker, I know.

Before moving on up to the East Side, I lived in the West Village for nine years. There is nothing like the energy of the West Village. I’m determined to move back there one day. When I have, like, a bazillion dollars. That’s the only way to afford a West Village apartment with space, light, and views. My old apartment was tiny. Natural light was sparse. Views were quaint, but I longed for big sky. So I was thrilled to find a place with lots of windows and southern exposure. I immediately knew that this area to the right would become my home office:

Office before

Writing near the windows with intense natural light and fresh air and sweet views all day is beyond amazing. I really needed the change. Trying to write on a “charming” West Village crooked floor while my chair kept wanting to roll away from my desk was not my idea of fun times. Nor was trying to write while my downstairs neighbor snored and coughed and yelled into his phone all day. Ah, memories.

Walls were skim coated. New floors were installed. I was very specific about not wanting wires showing in my office. Exposed wires bother me in general. To create a streamlined look, my electrician rewired the area so that the phone jack and eight outlets were all positioned together:

Office outlets

I had this fantasy of moving in and immediately working in my new home office the next day. That fantasy kept me going over the extra month I had to spend at my old place, counting down the days until I’d be immersed in my peaceful writing oasis. Did I move in and start working the next day as planned? Not exactly.

Office during

This is how I worked for about three weeks after moving in. I had strategically taken my sexy iMac to Shiny Happy Apple World for a check-up the day before I moved. When my contractors explained how much dust and plastic and drilling I’d be living with over the next few weeks, I asked the Apple friendly neighbors if they could take care of my computer until things settled down. Being made of awesome, they agreed. I worked on my MacBook Pro. Well, I tried to work. Finally being free of Mr. Snore was a huge relief. But living with a team of contractors while on deadline? Challenge accepted.

All of the drama was worth it. After the renovations were completed, my office settled into its current state of Zen retreat:

Susane Colasanti's home office

The original plan was to create a separate room for a home office. But my architect insisted that we keep the space open. I am so thankful for his expertise. Putting up walls would have blocked the light and views. And this apartment is all about the light and views. Instead, I positioned the modules on the right to create a sense of enclosed space. Headers from my Barnes & Noble floor displays are on the wall. I also put up prints from book cover photo shoots. It’s still a work in progress, but I love my office so much. I can breathe. I can write. These are good things.

Keep on breathing and writing…

help wanted

Congrats to the winner of my help videos contest, Rhonda McKenzie! She submitted the winning name for the series of help videos I will be launching in the near future. Rhonda, you forgot to include your email, so please email me at susanecolasanti[at]gmail so I can send out your books.

The series will be called Help Wanted. I hope you dig it as much as I do!

Selecting a winner was not easy. You guys gave me so many awesome suggestions I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I made a list of my top ten fave names and went from there. Honorable mentions go out to these friendly neighbors:

  • Nicole P. – Warm Fuzzies
  • Lauren – Ask Susane
  • Jasmine A. – Love and Life
  • ericasz – It’s Complicated
  • Sarah A. – Wishes to Kisses
  • missjess – Here for You
  • Allie – Hopefully Helpful
  • Sarah S. – Say Anything

Thanks to everyone who entered. More contests and giveaways to come!

home life – bookshelves

Thanks for all of your warm fuzzy feedback on my first home life post last week! I’m thrilled to share more before and after pictures of my new apartment with you. Today it’s all about the bookshelves.

I’ve always dreamed of having very specific bookshelves. They would be built-ins. They would be floor-to-ceiling. They would be glossy white. Some of you are familiar with my daily practice of creative visualization. That’s where you imagine the life you want, with laser vision and clear goals, then take steps every day to turn your dream into reality. Part of my own creative visualization lifestyle involves treasure mapping. I sketch how I want certain parts of my life to look. I also do a lot of scrapbooking where I create artwork to reflect different areas of my life. It’s cool to look back on my scrapbook pages from several years ago and see that I cut out pictures of big, bright windows from magazines to represent what I wanted my dream home to look like. Because now I have a wall of five big windows with southern exposure (aka window wall). That dream totally became reality.

So did the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves dream. When I saw this area of my new place back when I was considering buying it, I knew it would be perfect for the bookshelves:

Bookshelves before

I referred to a sketch of the bookshelves I made a few years before. There were three columns of books with cabinets underneath for my author copies, foreign editions, and book postcards. I worked with a designer who also did my closets to bring that sketch to life. The bookshelves were one of the last things to be built in the apartment because, up until two weeks before I moved in, the area where they were going looked like this:

Bookshelves demolition

Bags and bags of demolition debris and equipment and materials. Those boxes had the bathroom tiles. This is what the floors looked like after the original material was pulled off. There was drama about the new hardwood floors being put down late (which I will share in a separate post), so installation of the bookshelves had to be pushed back. Two days before I moved in, construction of the bookshelves began:

Bookshelves construction

If you are a fellow lover of real books, I don’t have to tell you how excited I was to unpack my books on the shelves I’d been wishing for my whole life. My passion for real books could never be replaced by a screen. Yes, I realize how easy it is to carry thousands of books in your bag. I get how handy an eReader is for traveling. But I am old-school. I love nostalgia. There’s nothing like picking up a vintage book, feeling the paper, sniffing the pages, appreciating the design elements. And there’s nothing like having all my books together like this:

Bookshelves after

Another after picture, showing the full floor-to-ceiling magnificence:

Bookshelves after

Let this be inspiration for you, friendly neighbor. Whatever you imagine for your future life, whatever you are most passionate about, you have the power to turn those dreams into reality. If I could do it, you totally can.

Next up in the home life series: kitchen awesomeness!

home life – bathroom

Finally! I could not be more thrilled to start sharing before and after pictures of my new home with you. Since I did an almost complete gut renovation of this apartment I bought in April, there’s a lot to tell you. So I’ve decided to do a series of home life posts. Each post will focus on one room or area of my home. Let’s get this party started!

Today I want to show you what we did to my bathroom. The only original thing I kept was the bathtub. Apparently, ripping out a bathtub is a major pain. It requires extensive plumbing and co-op board approval and a bunch of extra paperwork. I ended up having the tub reglazed to look shiny new. Which it totally does!

My bathroom still had the original tiles when I bought the apartment. Although there was a cool 60s vibe, I wanted a glossy white bathroom. So these tiles had to go:

Bathroom before

I was also not feeling the fixtures. The sink and faucets didn’t have the minimalist, streamlined look I wanted. And the toilet was one of those old catastrophes that didn’t really flush:

Bathroom before

I’ve had enough toilet drama for one life, thanks. Did you read Keep Holding On? Well, all of that toilet drama really did happen to me. For some reason I’d never been lucky enough to have a non-bootleg toilet. Which is why I was DONE. My new toilet is a work of art. For reals.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the shiny new toilet was installed, everything else in the bathroom (except the tub) was ripped out:

Bathroom demolition

I remember the day the wall was ripped out. My architect called me all excited about this extra space that was discovered behind the medicine cabinet:

Bathroom demolition

We could install a huge recessed mirror! With a shelf running along the base! And LED lighting around the edges! I was stoked. The lighting didn’t work out, but the mirror is gorgeous.

If you were reading my blog this summer, you may remember that my apartment renovation took way longer than promised. I was living here for five weeks while my contractors finished up. Tiling the bathroom was a big job. The new tiles extend from the floor to the ceiling, which took way longer than if we tiled halfway up the wall and painted the rest. During my first week living here, the bathroom door was removed. Oh, and my shower and sink were not yet installed. What did I do? Welcome to washing up at the kitchen sink and showering at the gym, everybody! Every day I reminded myself that after only one gross week, the place would be beautiful.

Of course things didn’t go that smoothly. Not at all. But you know me, the eternal optimist.

The important thing is that, despite having zero privacy and failing to smell like roses that first week, my bathroom is now pristine. Here’s the after picture of the left side:

Bathroom after

These gorgeous bathroom fixtures I wanted from Fantini were outrageously expensive. But man, are they gorgeous. My architect and I would take field trips to the Fantini showroom just to drool over the elegant sink faucets. It’s all good. I will have Fantini fixtures in my next apartment (aka Husband Apartment, the apartment I will share with my future husband, which will be epic). For my bathroom, I selected beautiful Hansgrohe shower and sink fixtures, a work-of-art Duravit toilet, Samuel Heath towel bars, a Ginger hotelier light (with dimmer), and Baldwin doorknobs. All fixtures are in polished chrome.

The right side, after:

Bathroom after

I get a little thrill every time I open those vanity drawers. It had been a dream of mine for many years to have drawers in the bathroom instead of a medicine cabinet. What can I say? Pretending to be fancy is fun.

Well, that was most likely more than you wanted to know about my bathroom saga. Next up in the home life series: floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves!

help videos contest

Can I just tell you how psyched out of my mind I am right now? I’ve been waiting to bust out this ginormous contest for a long time. Let the awesomeness begin.

A lot of my readers email me for advice. Mostly relationship advice. But I also have readers feeling desperate and alone asking for life advice. While I am far from an expert on anything, I’m honored that some of you feel comfortable enough with me to share your stories and seek help. I love writing back to everyone. Sometimes I find myself answering similar questions over and over. This got me thinking about answering your questions in a way that could be shared with everyone.

So! I am thrilled to announce the launch of my help video series. The plan is to answer a few of your questions in each video and post them on my YouTube. There’s just one problem. I can’t think of a good enough name for the videos. This is probably why it’s easier for me to write an entire book than to think of a decent title. The best I’ve come up with is OMG Help! and that is just not going to cut it. Which is why I’m turning to you for help with this contest. Look what you can win:

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen and All I Need by Susane Colasanti ARCs

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I not mention that I totally scored an ARC of Sarah Dessen’s upcoming novel, The Moon and More? My wonderful editor snagged a couple for me since Sarah and I share a publisher. Swag squared. You can also win an ARC of my upcoming novel, All I Need. Entering is easy. Just leave a comment here with your suggestion for what to call my help video series. The winner will receive both ARCs and be credited for naming the videos. Game on.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment here with your suggestion for what to call my help video series. You may suggest more than one name.

2. Please include your first name and email address with your entry. The winner will be notified by email.

Contest rules:

1. All entries must be received by Friday, December 14 at 11:11 pm.

2. The winner will be notified via email by Monday, December 17. The winner and name for the videos will also be announced here.

3. If the same name for the videos is submitted more than once, only the first comment will be counted as a potential winner.

4. The winning mailing address must be located in the United States. If you live abroad and have a contact in the States who can receive the prize for you, it can be sent to their address.

Dazzle me with your brilliance, friendly neighbors!