The Joys of Moving in New York – Part 1

Forgive me, readers, for I have moved.

It’s been seven days since my last post. Twelve years since my last move. You understand.

In case you missed Time to Move, you can see it here.

Here I am on Moving Eve. As the dear, departed Lucinda who raised my sister and me would say, I am wo’ out and my feets is swole.

Tired sore feet
Feet propped up to alleviate swelling. Doesn't always work.

I have a bruise the size of Montana on my right shin. Thank goodness for long bathrobes. If I told you how old that bathrobe was you would send me money for a new one. I don’t want a new one, but I appreciate your concern.

The packing and wrapping is done. Mama kept an eye on us.

Moving out with Mama watching.
Moving out with Mama watching.

Then–and this is the thing about moving in the City–it all goes into a narrow hall, then an elevator (if you’re lucky and it’s not a walk-up), then a truck, then another narrow hall, then another elevator. The whole thing takes 2 to 3 months.

Moving out
Moving out

Okay three days. It could probably have been two if not for the hat boxes. Which I keep,  in case I am called to be an extra in the Ascot scene of My Fair Lady. It is not not normal for someone my age in 2013 to have this many hatboxes. I know that. But dear Billy didn’t say a word.

Moving hatboxes

This is my man Billy at 69th Street. He and all the staff there are just terrific. Like family, really. I am going to miss them.

Billy manning the elevator.
Billy manning the service elevator.

I got a little weepy for a minute there. “A lot of chapters,” as my sister said, consolingly.

Frances weepy
Frances weepy

I am also going to miss our snazzy red communal hallway. My neighbors took a leap of faith when they let me paint it red, but I think they liked it. Red is a great color for a hall because Mark Hampton said so. This was a good red. Not too orange, not too blue. Benjamin Moore Burnt Peanut Red.

Now I’m from North Carolina and I’ve seen burnt peanuts and they are not this color, but whatever. It’s still a good red.

Snazzy red hallway
Snazzy red hallway in 69th Street. Parson's table, Breuer chairs, Robert Rauschenberg print.

Counterintuitively, dark colors are good for small spaces because they don’t show shadows, so the walls appear to recede and therefore expand away from you. Also art looks great on dark walls.

One of my neighbors was a curator for modern art at the Met and she had hung fab Jasper Johns posters, prints by Elsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg, and a photo of Willem de Kooning about to fire up a Lucky Strike. Willem was hot in 1950. The image here is the same as my neighbor’s but I borrowed this one from Habitually Chic’s post about the de Kooning retrospective in 2011.

willem de kooning 1950
Willem de Kooning,1950

Movin’ on up in our case is movin’  on down and west to Fifth Avenue, which is great, and it’s the first place that is His Grace’s and mine together. Before we had his and mine, and now we have ours. (Aww.) It’s a little more space but not quite as much closet. Ahem. Not that I’m complaining. But if you have any thoughts about where these hats might go, please let me know.

Hatboxes and hats
Hatboxes and hats. looking for a home

And the luggage?

No this is not a de Kooning sculpture. It is luggage. And a cooler and a vacuum cleaner. And a balled-up shirt. I styled it myself.

Luggage in a heap
Luggage in a heap, with vacuum cleaner. Sounds like the name of a de Koonig painting.

Maybe we put it all in a big net and attach it to the ceiling like balloons at a political convention. Just a thought.

But like I say I’m not complaining. It’s just not possible with a view like this.

Central Park from Fifth Avenue near Grand Army Plaza
Central Park from Fifth Avenue near Grand Army Plaza. That's Wolman (skating) Rink to the left, Central Park Zoo to the right.

To be continued…


  1. Your new place looks fabulous Frances. Especially the de Kooning sculpture. You are so funny. I’m coming to NY tomorrow. I think a tall martini is in order.
    Happy new home to you and His Grace . . . xxpatsy

  2. Divine!
    I do have a suggestion! (I am a decorator for 43 years….do I have a suggestion?)
    When we built our house ; I have 90 million pillows! I said to my husband : (where on earth to I put all these pillows? He (brilliant businessman and math person); said: “Look up!” high ceilings!! He, (as always., was right!)

    I hope there are shelves; but, if not get some!!, shelves up high are fabulous for hatboxes! (sheesh! I have almost as many as you!!)

    Quite amazing! (some are the same!!) (One!)

    ps you are a great girl!


    1. Thank you Penelope, and your pillows too. Your advice to look UP is excellent, and therein lies the rub, alas. The ceilings here are a rather stingy 8 feet, compared to 9 feet in previous apt. It adds up to a significant amount of cubic feet in volume and shelf space. Almost every living situation–even one as arguably fancy as mine–involves some sort of compromise. I soooo wanted a pre-war building and high ceilings. Oh well, next time. 😉 Thank you, too, for your kind words. x Frances

  3. Love my hats, too….and just recently had to throw out two Elsa Schiaparelli hatboxes that were on the verge of collapsing (as was I having to get rid of those pink boxes!).

    If you have time to share the particular red info with your readers (after you settle in), I’d love it. It’s my favorite color and makes an appearance in some form or another in almost all rooms!


    1. Must have been very tough tossing the “Schiap” boxes, Liz. Those would trump even Bonwit Teller shopping bags. I will find the red…

    2. Hi Liz, found it! Benjamin Moore Burnt Peanut Red! (I had thought it was P & L, but that was another house…)

  4. “…the first place that is His Grace’s and mine together. Before we had his and mine, and now we have ours.”

    Makes it worth it…

    Love and blessings…

    1. Yes it does Randall. And I’ve thought about you and Partner and your recent move in the process, inspired by your grace, equanimity, and good humor.

  5. After a very long day, of dealing with attorneys (why do they all write in gibberish?), this post has made me laugh out loud. I’m sitting here cackling, that first picture, oh, my! LOVE that red hallway! The hats! The humor! Thank you, Ms. Frances, for sharing your joy with us, it’s much appreciated. Best wishes on your new digs! I’m sure His Grace said “Magnifico!” when he first saw that view. That still cracks me up.

    1. Greetings dear EB, and thank you as always for your comments which tend to be better than my posts. Magnifico! But listen get this, HG hasn’t even seen the apartment! Soon though. I think he is waiting for the chaos to subside. I’ve got my work cut out for me… Worrying about your dealings with lawyers. Be sure to keep them in their place. Love to you, Frances

  6. A friend writes:
    Much happiness to you in the new digs. My experience is that “ours” presumes a certain amount of acceptance of different tastes that “yours and mine” fails to inspire. Nice piece.

  7. From Laura from Romania: For one hat box I can give you my address, but it will be pity to not keep these wonderful things. Lovely hat boxes, lovely view. Good luck with the interior designer.

  8. What a perfectly wonderful time to move to Fifth Ave and get to watch Central Park come alive with its flowering trees, flowering beds and walk a Fifth Ave mile in one of your fab hats with His Grace by your side……

  9. Confession…SAVE those hat boxes…hard to come by…think Mr. John predeceased us. My Mama collected hats I think. Cannot part with them. There is one very special one she wore to our wedding and Mr. John’s letter is in the box with it. His signature is as big as the letter sheet. These hats and hatboxes move with me.
    Well, tomorrow am 77..may wear that hat.
    cheers to you…love your new view,

    1. Lynn, you cannot be 77. Lord have mercy you do not look it. Has been a while since I’ve seen you but I just know. Happy happy birthday to you, and you wear that hat. Love to you, Frances

  10. My Lord what a view !!! HG will love it and many happy days ahead…Thank you for taking us along on the move. xo Becky

  11. Dear Fransister, I am so excited about your new pad! Many more chapters to be revealed! I can’t wait to see the view in the spring when the trees start blooming. I wonder if Lucinda is still helping stretch out mama’s shoes??? xo!

    1. Thank you Dusister! You and yours will be in those chapters! And yes am sure poor Lucinda is still stretching Ruth’s shoes. Or maybe everybody goes barefoot in heaven?

    2. Sure heavens angels are wearing Lillys and Jack Rogers sandals as we write today. Had forgotten about stretching shoes..just a great idea.

      1. Yes indeed. Will hope both brands continue as the classics they are – like their creators! 🙂

  12. Dear Frances, Congratulations on the move. It definitely has a spectacular view. I hope you have many happy years in this new place.
    If you want to get rid of any hats, remember, I love hats and wear them quite often.
    Love to you both

    1. Oh how we loved her and miss her, Elizabeth! It is good to hear from you – thank you so much for writing – and for reading! Yes you are right about the moving making us get rid of stuff! Silver lining! Take care and keep in touch, Frances

  13. Great view Francis!
    About those hats! I too am a collector of hats and the boxes in which they come. As a matter of fact I just purchased two hats last year from “Montana Peak” hat company based in Pendleton, Oregon (crazy, I know) They make hats for the rodeo, the movies and people like me.
    Anyway, there may be a high school theater department that would love to have those hats and the boxes.
    Take care of those feet!

    1. Hi Theresa and thank you! Funny – I did think of a school theater department… Will look into Montana Peak as well. Oh boy! Love to you, Frances

  14. Bravo Frances!
    Moving is less fun than the dentist but you talk of hat boxes
    and gorgeous views I like your attitude. The feet will recover,
    with time!

    1. Thank you Miss Kate… the feet are on the mend, fortunately, but only to be put back into high heels. 😀 xo Frances

  15. Oh I missed your blog so much and was afraid they had packed you in one of the boxes and had forgotten which one and hoped it was not one gone to storage. A suggestion for the hatboxes is to create a mobile and donate it to the Costume Institute at the Met. Convince the curator they need do a show of hats and your problem is solved until you shop for more hats. If you really miss Billy that much you can move again in two months.
    Your feet will be deflated and bruise all gone by then. Enjoy your new palace with HIS GRACE. The view is spectacular and now for pictures of your creative talents decorating.

    1. Oh thank you precious Gigi! What a wonderful suggestion for the hat boxes! And apologies for the lapse. Posting will be a little light until I am sorted out here, or sort of sorted. Thanks for your patience 🙂 x Frances

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