apartment progress: yellow.

January 24, 2022

It’s the end of January. A mouse that was scurrying around in our wall became a mouse that was scurrying around in our apartment. Now it is a mouse scurrying somewhere in the underbrush of Brooklyn. (That’s the idea, anyway.) Time has passed and the new year, unlike the mouse, has crawled slowly along. I’ve moisturized my feet. I have not repaired the hole in my mitten. I have not planted more bulbs or written a book proposal. I have brought home a bundle of mimosa and painted my old wardrobe yellow. There’s always next month for everything else.

We came into this wardrobe through our neighborhood Buy Nothing Project before moving into this apartment last year. In our place, it’s tasked with holding our family’s collection of outerwear, bags and backpacks, not to mention our stash of hand sanitizers and masks among other things that have become part of our “get out of the apartment” arsenal in the past two years. In other words, it’s the mudroom, the coat closet, the garage, and the entryway. It looks very much like the wardrobe that sat on my back porch as a kid and held snow pants and soccer balls and winter jackets that went musty every single year from so much time out in the salt air.

Maybe you have one of these wardrobes, too. They’re the kind of ubiquitous two-door wardrobes that probably once came from mail order catalogs. They’re not precious enough to be considered valuable antiques, but they’re old-fashioned enough to be considered charming, at least by me. This one, like the one I grew up with, isn’t built of fine materials or expertly crafted, but it is made of generally solid wood and so able to be moderately improved upon. If you’re lucky, you might find one lined in cedar. If you happened along my very street just a few months ago, you might have walked home with an unpainted specimen I spotted there one morning after the school run.

This particular wardrobe’s exterior was white when we received it. Somewhere along the line someone had painted over its dark brown stain (and all of its hardware too). Inside the cabinet were plywood shelves that I removed, and passed along to another neighbor. I put a fresh coat of paint on the interior—pink leftover from our kids’ desk—and touched up the white paint on the exterior with what I had on hand. The white didn’t match the finish or color of what was already there, but it made the rough spots slightly less so and so we’ve all managed to live together just fine. Still, during a January that feels interminable, I decided to toy with adding a bit of color into our lives (and to finally fix a hinge that’s been broken for the past year and a half).

Farrow & Ball was generous enough to provide paint samples and they arrived at my door on the last day of a 10-day quarantine with Silas, which is to say, right on time. I painted swatches of Cane No. 53 and Yellow Ground No. 218, before settling on the mid-ranging hue, Sudbury Yellow No. 51. It felt like a nod to the ochres I’d grown up seeing on the cabinetry and floors of old rambly New England farmhouses, and it’s not so dissimilar from the yellow paint that lies underneath layers of white paint in our kitchen. If a color can be warm, then this is. Warm, not showy; cheery, not overpowering. The perfect thing for January and I have a hunch I’ll like it just as well come June.

Other things:

The candlestick and pitcher are made by Notary Ceramics.

The beeswax taper here was mixed with a chunk of bayberry wax to make that perfect color.

And for good measure, here’s everything you didn’t realize you wanted to know about painting a canvas floor cloth.

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  • Reply Megan January 24, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    It looks great.

  • Reply cathy January 24, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    It’s gorgeous! So warm. Really like the hinges too. Your wardrobe has made me reconsider yellow. Now if only I had something to paint! Love the flowers and taper as well.

  • Reply Hannah January 24, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    SO CHARMING. Love the yellow! How cheery!

  • Reply anne January 24, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    I think it’s beautiful. A lovely choice of color on a beautifully useful piece of furniture!

  • Reply AnnieH January 24, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    Love it! It’s the perfect tone of sophisticatedly cheerful yellow.

  • Reply georgia January 24, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    Beautiful! We have a small room painted Sudbury Yellow and we love it!

  • Reply Morgan January 24, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Book proposal! Oh yay! I would love to see Living Simple with Kids. You have so many smart and inspiring insights on living simply with little ones. I know the blog has it all but I would love a book to refer back to.

  • Reply Madeleine January 24, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    It’s amaaaaazingg Erin!!! Now I’m looking around my house for something to paint yellow haha. So cheerful!

  • Reply Auberie January 24, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    It looks perfect and warm. Well done Erin! Hoping to find something similar in Europe one of these days

  • Reply Amber January 24, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    I want an armoire like this for linens, and I cannot find one anywhere. Everything I see in the thrift sites and in stores are old TV cabinets. I don’t understand — they are so useful! And yours is beautiful now too.

  • Reply Zoe persina January 24, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    You did such a good job! every time I paint furniture it’s a drippy mess!! Proud.

  • Reply Kelsey January 24, 2022 at 9:08 pm

    I initially voted no to this idea on Instagram, and I am big enough to admit when I am wrong. I was wrong! This looks like a breath of fresh air, I love it.

  • Reply B January 24, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    It makes the space sing. One other time you did this, I think it was the soft green wall paint in the bedroom. A pleasant surprise.

  • Reply Lesley January 24, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Like a piece of sunshine every day. Wonderful!

  • Reply Elle January 25, 2022 at 12:43 am

    I didn’t think I’d like this but I absolutely do!

  • Reply Tonia January 25, 2022 at 3:53 am

    I adore that yellow! Perfect shade – you can feel your eyes relax as you look at it.

  • Reply mado January 25, 2022 at 8:19 am

    Beautiful and cheerful. I love how you describe it as your coat closet, mud room, garage, etc. Living in an apartment without a designated coat closet, I am in the middle of rethinking our entryway/exitway storage. Your words are inspiring as always!

  • Reply Janet January 25, 2022 at 11:14 am

    Such a warm and inviting shade of yellow. It’s perfect!

  • Reply Helen January 25, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    Ok, I was not initially on team yellow but am fully converted! It’s beautiful.

  • Reply Kate January 25, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    I love your mimosa! At 17 I went to Paris as an au pair, and while I was thrilled to be there, winter in Paris seemed dreary and gray. Coming from Alberta, with white snow & blue skies, I found it sad. Then mimosa time hit, with all the lovely bright warmth, and all was well again.
    Years later in Australia, acacia trees, aka wattles, had the same effect on me – sunshine yellow, such a spirit-lifter. Love it.

  • Reply KH January 25, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    How I’ve missed the “APARTMENT PROGRESS” posts! Looks great, and I can’t wait to see it brightening up shots for many future photos.

  • Reply Sue January 26, 2022 at 4:51 am

    That colour is glorious … there’s no other word for it, glorious.

  • Reply Anna January 26, 2022 at 10:41 am

    I love it, Erin! Right up there with your ’70’s cool Mom style”

  • Reply Audrey January 26, 2022 at 11:41 am

    Your Buy Nothing Project group sounds legit! People are giving away used socks on mine 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 26, 2022 at 12:26 pm

      it’s really great! (and we definitely also exchange used socks!)

  • Reply Grace January 26, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    Yellow is like the umami of colors! It brings so much depth and good funk out in everything around it, it’s magic :))) Love your choice!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 26, 2022 at 4:00 pm


  • Reply Jennifer January 26, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    Love this shade of yellow… did you use flat? And did you put wax on top

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 27, 2022 at 6:35 am

      I used the F&B Estate Eggshell finish!


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