The New Black Vanguard

By Abby

Entering the Cleveland Museum of Art on Friday, May 6th, felt a bit surreal. That evening the art was not framed behind glass, but, rather, walking, talking, and dancing to the music flooding out of the DJ’s booth. That evening was the grand opening of an exhibit that melds photography, art and fashion: The New Black Vanguard.

The exhibit features images from prominent and emerging Black photographers. These photographers often work with Black models, stylists and designers. While this exhibit has been featured in other cities, Cleveland made it special by adding live models. The models gracefully displayed the creations of three stylists from the show: Jermaine Daley, Daniel Obasi, and Arielle Bobb-Willis, each of whom created a unique look to emphasize the importance of stylists in fashion photography.

Many of the guests really stole the show though, in my opinion. Below are just a few of the many amazing people who came out to support this incredible compilation of combined talents that represents The New Black Vanguard.

The Black Vanguard photography exhibit is at the Cleveland Museum of Art through Sept. 11, 2022. Don’t miss it.

My husband is always right

By Elle

My husband, Arkady (yep, we finally got married!), and I rarely disagree about anything, which is amazing in and of itself, and even more amazing when you factor in how many home renovation projects we get ourselves into. The opportunities for disagreements should be boundless, yet somehow we align on practically everything. (And when we don’t, he typically gives in, thus making him right. What’s more, he said the other day that a wise man once told his wife … nothing. Because he was a wise man.)

Here’s one example, however, where we did not align: how to treat the small hallway leading to both our offices and the main bathroom. My husband felt the hallway should have its own “look and feel,” and I felt that it was too small to warrant any special treatment. I felt we should use the same flooring that we are planning to use in the front foyer, which ties into that hallway, although we haven’t fully decided on what that flooring is since we’re probably about a year away from tackling that project.

In the meantime, the carpeting in the hallway wasn’t bothering either of us, so we just let it be. Then on one of our frequent trips to Lowe’s, I spotted this delightful porcelain tile from Turkey. I immediately fell in love with its colors and pattern, and I itched to use it somewhere. But where? I was racking my brain.

“Hey,” I said to Arkady. “You know, I was thinking that you’re right about the hallway by our offices. Wouldn’t this tile look amazing there? And it would really define the space.”

His eyes lit right up.

After inspecting the tile, he agreed that it would suit the space perfectly. Win-win! We filled our cart with a few boxes of tile, a package of light grey grout and Schluter®-DITRA uncoupling membrane (used to prevent the tile from cracking), and off we went to upgrade our hallway.

After we removed the patch of carpeting that had been there along with the quarter-round trim around the perimeter, Arkady notched the door frames so that the tile could slip beneath them. Next we gridded out the pattern for the tile.

It took us a few tries to determine the pattern we liked, and we settled on one in which an arrow pointed to essentially the center of each of the three doorways (because we’re dorky that way).

Before we laid the tile, we installed the Schluter®-DITRA uncoupling membrane. We’d not used it before and were eager to try it. This small space offered the perfect opportunity because we planned to use DITRA on our kitchen floor. Turns out, it’s quite easy to use, and we feel reassured that the tile will maintain its integrity for years to come.

The trickiest part was ensuring that the height transitions to the various rooms were as even as possible. We used Schluter Systems aluminum tile edge trim for all the transitions. I know I sound like a Schluter salesperson, but their products, while a little pricey, are easy to use, and the edge trim offers a beautiful and seamless look. (We subsequently used the Schluter membrane and tile edge trim in our kitchen, beneath the porcelain floor, and are totally pleased with the result.)

Another bonus about this tile is that it complements the cork flooring in my office, the hickory flooring in Arkady’s office and the ceramic tile in the bathroom. We were less concerned about it complementing the ceramic tile that extends from the front foyer since that tile is not long for this world anyway, fingers crossed.

Aside from needing to touch up some paint (an endless task around our house, I’m afraid), this concludes another successful DIY project by yours truly and her Mr. Right.

Stairway spindles get the Midas Touch

By Elle

After a tumultuous two years, during which Arkady and I cared for and lost three of our parents, and during which I lost my dear brother, we’re hopeful that the dark skies above us look, and sail, yonder. He and I both have good days and bad days, but we’re trying to return to our “normal” life, which, particularly during the pandemic, means tearing apart our house and putting it back together again. If nothing else, it’s a healthy, though oftentimes messy, distraction.

My first “remodeling” project was the staircase. I’d been pondering what to do with our white staircase spindles for a few years, and I’d even sanded them a couple of years ago in preparation for painting. I knew I wanted to paint them with a metallic paint — I’d been thinking pewter — but during a recent trip to Lowe’s, I loaded up on paint samples and settled on gold, which surprised me because I’m generally not a gold person. (Side note: We’re planning to build an addition to our house in the spring, and I’ve already chosen the interior color scheme: teal and gold. What the hell? Must be an age thing.) Continue reading

How hard is it to choose a stain color?

Not the greatest quality photo but you can see how the walkway looks at night when it’s lighted.

By Elle

Two years ago, we had a beautiful curved wooden ramp built at the front of our house (built as a wheelchair ramp for my mom — click on the link to see the “before” photos), which we planned to stain the following year after letting the wood season. Well, you know how one year turns into two, and two easily had the potential of turning into three if it weren’t for my OCD running interference. Once an idea gets planted inside my noggin, good luck digging it out. Part of the delay was legit: lack of time and opportunity. The other part, not so much. We just couldn’t wrap our heads around colors. Continue reading

Kids’ bedroom redo: sleeping for 6!

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion kids' bedroom redoBy Elle

I know, it’s been waaaay too long between posts, mainly because of elderly parent care (which has dramatically impacted our home renovation progress) but also because I can’t find it in my heart right now to write about fashion when the events of the world, particularly the state of our environment, are weighing so heavily on me. I’ve obviously sidelined the fashion posts, for now anyway, but I will post home renovation news as we have it. Continue reading

Secret to a flat belly

By Elle

Talking about diet isn’t entirely related to fashion, but it falls into the periphery, and since I stumbled upon an immensely helpful approach to losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight), I thought I should share it with you.

As a 40-year vegetarian (who’s now mostly vegan), I’ve not struggled terribly with weight, but once I hit my 50s, I noticed I was sprouting a little meno pot, a pesky pot belly that mushrooms once you hit menopause and that no amount of planks will faze. Ugh. Continue reading