The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Halloween Costumes: Agatha & Zero from The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nick and I have been wearing couples Halloween costumes for the last few years (remember Margot & Richie or Parmesan Cheese & Spaghetti?) They seem to become harder for us to decide on year after year, but dressing up in coordinating costumes is way more fun than flying solo. This year I was struggling to decide who we would dress up as, but after we went to a "Brew and View" showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel at a local theater last month, it all became clear: Agatha & Zero!

Of course this isn't our first time being Wes Anderson characters (Margot & Richie Tenenbaum being the firsts), but his characters are so unique and iconic that they make great costumes. For those unfamiliar with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Agatha is a professional pastry chef at Mendl's Bakery and Zero Moustafa is a lobby boy (and the eventual owner) of the Grand Budapest. They become friends, fall in love, and Agatha assists Zero in helping M. Gustave, the hotel's concierge, after is he arrested for murder.

Agatha's most striking feature is the large birth mark on her face in the shape of Mexico. She's most often seen in a dress and apron, baking treats in the Mendl's kitchen or hand-delivering boxes of desserts. For my Agatha costume, I wore a cream colored sweater from my closet, this dress I purchased from Amazon, and an apron I made from a length of blue fabric purchased at Jo-Ann. I made Agatha's Society of the Crossed Keys necklace from white clay, turquoise ribbon, and black paint. We printed out a few copies of the Mendl's logo and Nick built a dessert box from scrap cardboard. For the finishing touches I braided back my hair on each side and Nick used a dark reddish brown lip liner to add Agatha's birth mark to my cheek.

Zero Moustafa is the Grand Budapest's dedicated lobby boy, as indicated by his hat. Zero's work uniform is a head-to-toe purple suit with pops of red accents. He draws on a thin mustache each morning to begin his day at work. For Nick's Zero costume, he wore a purple button-down shirt we found from a local thrift store. We hemmed the bottom and cut off the collar to make it look more like a jacket. We purchased these purple track pants from Amazon and colored the white stripes with a red marker. Nick wore red socks and dress shoes from his closet. For Zero's infamous "Lobby Boy" hat, Nick used cardboard to create the basic hat shape. He covered it in purple vinyl, and finally we added the letters with a gold Sharpie paint pen.

Once we had all of the pieces, these were pretty quick costumes to put together! We're so excited to dive back into Wes Anderson's world and share our Agatha and Zero looks for Halloween this weekend.

How do you think we did? Are you dressing up for Halloween? Share with us in the comments below!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, October 21, 2016

Before & After: Nick's Music Room

On June 3rd, when Sarah and I closed on the house, we sat for hours on the empty living room floor sipping champagne and daydreaming of changes we wanted to make in our new home. Everything from big picture items like knocking down walls and rewiring entire rooms, to smaller tasks like painting the front door and removing mini blinds. The future ahead of us was both daunting and exciting.

We knew that in order to keep ourselves sane, and our lives functioning at least semi-normally we would have to control ourselves to working on one room at a time. That has been a hard guideline to follow, but for the most part, we made it work.

And FINALLY, after months of work, countless side projects, delays, and distractions, we are so proud to show off our first ever before and after post of The Surznick Ranch Reno - the Music Room!

Since the music room is essential to part of my income, I immediately knew I wanted to finish this room first. It's been functioning as a lesson space for a couple months now, but has only recently been completely finalized.

Let's check out what all we were able to accomplish!

A lot of work went into transforming this small 3rd bedroom into the lesson studio it is today. Here are the tiny details of what it took to complete this room's overhaul.

The Floor Trim:

Every time I see the before picture of this trim I am blown away by it's hideousness. Unfortunately, the ENTIRE house has this exact same trim, so my crusade against it is far from over. The new trim and quarter round is painted with semi-gloss ultra pure white (untinted) Behr paint and the contrast it makes with the dark blue on the walls is exactly as dreamy as I hoped it would be.

Door/Window/Closet Trim:

The doorway to the music room was already trimmed, but with the same skinny, brown ugly trim that exists in the rest of the house. We took that off and replaced it with a slightly bulkier white trim to better match our floor trim. The closet and window had no trim around them at all, so they had to be framed out on the inside dimensions before adding new trimming around it. It was a ton of work that doesn't serve any purpose other than to look nice, but it was completely worth it. The window looks bigger, and the closet seems less like a random cave in the wall without a door. Also, having the inside of the closet doorway finished opens up the possibility of completing it with a door jamb and door in the future.

The Walls:

The walls in this room were easily the biggest part of this renovation. Where the drywall met the studs, there were terribly deep valleys. All of the walls had really noticeable ugly patches, various textures, holes, etc. Honestly, the photos simply don't do them justice. They were so nasty. We filled the uneven valleys with joint compound, patched holes, and entirely sanded down the textures on ALL the walls. It was disgusting, time consuming, painful, arduous, loud, and terrible in every way imaginable. But we knew it had to be done since this dark wall paint was going to just highlight every uneven and multi-textured surface. Once the walls were smooth, the primer coat looked like a million bucks, and the two coats of color on top of that just made my heart soar.

The Light:

As with every other room in the house, right in the middle of this tiny room was an old, gold and wood ceiling fan. Obviously, it had to go, and obviously it had to be replaced with a sleek, bright brass fixture.

The Shelves:

The music room is pretty small, and other than the closet and some very small desk drawers, there isn't much storage. These simple shelves from IKEA were super quick and easy to install. The only customizing we did to them was to paint the brackets. They started out as just slightly off-white. I didn't like the thought of the super white trim with off-white brackets, so I painted them with the same paint used on the trim.

The Furnishings:

We refinished these orange directional chairs specifically to be used in this room, and they were featured in a previous post, which you can read here. I love the contrast of the complementary dark blue and the orange.

This desk was the perfect combination of pretty, simple, functional, and small. It nicely fits the wall, and provides me with a place to finish up some work while not taking up too much of the room's precious floor space.

Of course, seeing as this is my lesson studio, I needed a piano! The space above the piano is finished with these beautiful Harry Potter prints that we had hanging in the office in our apartment. Finally, they're not hidden in a back room anymore and their beauty gets the attention it deserves.

Maps are a mild obsession of mine, so the huge space on the empty side of this room was the perfect spot for this large map. We built the wooden hanger for it - you can read about it here.

The Plant Hangers:

The area above my new desk was the only wall we decided to keep white. Since this wall is opposite the only window in the room, we wanted to reflect that light into the rest of the space. The only problem was that it was no fun sitting at my desk staring at a blank white wall, so we decided to spice it up a bit with these DIY plant hangers that we featured on the blog a while back. I think they fill the space nicely, and the pops of green really enhance the room.

Whew! And we're done! Both with the music room and this post! I know this has been one of our longest posts, but I'm so proud of this room, and I wanted to brag about every little detail. That's cool, right? If you like reading the nitty gritty details of a room makeover/renovation, then you're in luck because we still have two more bedrooms, a bathroom, a basement, a kitchen, a laundry room, and a living room to do (some day... hopefully before I'm dead.)

Check below for links to all the things we used and purchased for this room! If we missed something or you have questions about anything, be sure to leave us a comment below!

Paint - Behr Starless Night and Behr untinted white (Home Depot)
Wall Map with Wooden Hanger (DIY)
Curtains & Rod (IKEA)
Harry Potter Prints (Etsy)
Gold Task Lamp (Target)
Globe (TJMaxx) - similar
Orange Chairs (DIY)
Copper Plant Stand (DIY)
Shelves & Brackets (IKEA)
Desk (Target)
Rug (Rugs USA)
5 Spoke Ceiling Light (Amazon)
Hanging Plants (DIY)

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Day (+ A Giveaway!)

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

This past Saturday Nick and I celebrated our annual Fall Day (our 6th one!) In case you need a refresher, this is the day we visit our favorite farm to pick pumpkins, then spend the day sipping warm apple cider and watching scary movies together. I know it probably sounds pretty #basic and unoriginal these days, but we started this little tradition when we were dating semi-long distance, and it's been something we've kept up every year, no matter how trendy loving Fall gets. We love it too, and this year was no different! (You can see past Fall Day snaps here and here.)

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

I've pretty much got my outfit for Fall Day down pat: skeleton sweater, jeans, boots, and a field jacket (depending on the weather.) My skeleton sweater is one of my favorite pieces in my closet and I've practically worn it to death (pun intended.) It's already suffered a torn shoulder and has probably shrunken a little too much in the wash, but I won't part with it - especially this time of year.

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

This year I added a new accessory to the mix - my new wooden watch from JORD. Nick got me a watch last year for Christmas and I've worn it just about every day since. But like most jewelry and accessories, it's fun to mix it up and wear different pieces. This JORD watch is such a unique addition to my wardrobe - it's made from wood, so it's super light and easy to wear. When I think of fall, I think of being outdoors, warm campfires, colorful trees, and crunchy leaves - this gold and zebrawood piece reminds me of all of those things and fits perfectly into my fall style.

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

If you're unfamiliar with JORD, they make both men's and women's timepieces in eight different styles of wood. They're passionate about making more than just a watch - they want to tell a story: "The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time." Keep reading below for a chance to win your own!

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

This Fall Day was unseasonably warm, so I stripped off my coat to find our perfect pumpkin (it's green!) We took the short hayride back to the entrance of the farm and finished our trip with a stop in the wine shop to pick up a bottle of our favorite Cocoa Vino. It's about a 30-minute drive to/from the farm, so we jammed to our Halloween playlist in the car and finally arrived home to hunker down for a day of movies and snuggling with our ever-growing kitties.

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

Wait - you didn't think I forgot about the contest did you? JORD wants to give one Common Room reader a $75 gift card to their shop! And guess what? You'll get $20 off a watch purchase just for entering! Click here to enter! The contest ends 11/13 and the winner will be contacted via email.

Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches
Surznick Common Room - Fall Day ft. JORD Wood Watches

American Eagle Jeans (similar)
Old Navy Booties (similar)
Old Navy Field Jacket (similar)

xo, Sarah

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches. I was provided with this watch for review - I love it and all opinions are my own!