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April, 2008 | Manolo for the Home
Archive - April, 2008

Boxes upon boxes upon boxes

The fancy-schmancy version of the redneck manse, pehaps?

For some reason, these stacked apartments bring to mind a mainstream version of the redneck manse, but the reality is a touch more upscale than that. Habitat 67 in Montreal was built by architect Moshe Safdie as a prototype for affordable modular living spaces. Alas, the individual units–situated as they are on the Marc-Drouin Quay on the Saint Lawrence River–are now quite expensive. Pity, that.

This snapshot of Habitat 67 comes from a slideshow of gravity defying structures on PointClickHome. My favorites are the Cactus House in Rotterdam, Netherlands and the extreme tree house in Irian Jana, Indonesia. I should add that I wouldn’t even know about gravity defying houses if it weren’t for a wonderful blog that everyone should be checking out regularly, A Daily Dose of Architecture.

(I’d say more about everything and anything, but I’m tremendously sick. Bleah.)

Birds of a feather

Twiddley dee, twiddley diddley dee

My grandmother on my mother’s side has a special tea cup she uses. The rest of us use Russian tea glasses while she drinks her blend from a dainty bone china cup and saucer covered in colorful flowers. It’s really a rather lovely thing to see on the table in the cold winter months because it’s so evocative of springtime.

Were I to choose a special cup of my very own, it would probably be a coffee cup and I’d more than likely pick the Chirp cup from Lenox. What can I say? I’m a total sucker for bluebirds…too bad I have a little trouble justifying the $25 price tag.

For now I’ll have to settle for my oddly-balanced yet beloved jade glass cup and saucer I bought at a Cracker Barrel store ages and ages ago. Do you have a special cup or mug or bowl or plate?

ROUNDUP: Napkin rings

There is but a single quatro of napkin rings in the whole of my house. They’re pewter, and I found them long ago while poking through The Beard’s things. I was mystified…why did The Beard have a set of fancy napkin rings embellished with a single engraved H? They were obviously old–the heavy cardboard box in which they were stored was too nice to be new.

All mysteries aside, I thought that lovely pewter napkin rings really ought to be in the general circulation, so I confiscated them and bought a mess of ecologically responsible cloth napkins.

Who’d have thought mannerly cleanliness could be so much fun? I like sending The Beard to work with a packed lunch complete with a pretty yellow napkin tucked into a napkin ring. He’s told me that his coworkers think it’s awesome, and there are few things I like more than impressing people from afar.

Born with one of these in your mouth?Wood you like one of these?Ooh, shiny!
ACHTUNG! They're glassOnce you go black...Dastardly pretty, no?

My favorite rings are the porcelain Lenox rings, but that may be because I already have a pewter set. Unfortunately, the rings I have will have to do for a bit…at least until I get some new napkins and start entertaining again. I’ve been too busy lately to even think about rolling a napkin into a napkin ring.

The redneck manse, revealed

A working trailor set atop a non-working trailor?

I remember once joshing on trailers and trailer parks in front of some future in-laws. My then soon-to-be sister-in-law was the first to speak up, saying, “You know that mom once lived in a trailer, right?” I lapsed into an embarrassed silence until I remembered two things. One, I have relatives who live in what is commonly known as a double wide, and two, my MIL lived in the trailer to better make use of a huge and beautiful piece of unspoiled land.

Just so you know, I harbor no particular assumptions about trailers or the people who call them home. In fact, I wouldn’t mind moving into my own redneck mansion, provided I could paint it crazy colors and overcharge touristy types who wanted to point and gawk. It is for these reasons that I’m sad to say that this lowbrow manse is actually a theatrical set.

After receiving thousands of inquiries as to the whereabouts and existence of this “mansion,” the mystery has been solved. [The structure] is actually a set at the Openluchttheater in Amsterdam where plays are performed in the summer months. This is from the production of Ivanov.

Nuts!

Fabulous fabrics

It’s not all that tough to sew a pillowcase, and with the right directions, almost anyone can reupholster a chair. No kidding! I know one moderately skilled needle pusher who redid her entire living room by carefully taking apart the fabric on her furniture and using that to create her own pattern. I’m not suggesting you do that if you’re not comfortable with your sewing machine, but why not try making a lap quilt? Or a quillow?

Black Lg Chinese Writing/Girl CottonCream Medium Oriental LadiesYellow w/ Chinese Writing/Girl

Damask  GreenLiz Claiborne Extrovert OceanSage W/ Ivory Bird

Budding Trail - Asst'd ColorsPindot SherbertPineapples & Palms Flannel

The best thing about sewing — as I’ve said in the past — is that there are oodles and oodles of totally sweet fabrics out there. I like to shop the sale cottons, of which there are usually many, and my favorite brand is Marcus Fabrics. If, like me, you have an unpracticed eye when it comes to matching colors and patterns, take heart! Many of the fabric designers and retailers create and list their wares in pre-matching sets so you know you’re going to get two or more fabrics that harmonize perfectly.

Have fun!

To arms! (Or not.)

ARMS! VS. ARMLESS!

The Beard and I hosted house guests for the past few days, and one noticed my growing stack of furniture, housewares, and gardening catalogs. What can I say? It’s a perk of the job — I need to know what’s out there, and I have the best excuse in the world for hoarding catalogs and magazines.

In a quiet moment, my guest was flipping through a home decor mag and happened upon a page full of of armless couches and loveseats. Her thoughts on living room seating are emphatic and rigidly defined. A couch, in her opinion, should have arms because armless couches look ridiculous and rob those who sit of a valuable perch for elbows and tired heads.

So naturally I have to ask y’all…

Personally, I like my chairs and couches to have arms. Arms hold teacups and cats…they keep a book open at the last page I read…and I can put my legs up without too much trouble.

Seeing into other people’s lives

There are few chores sadder than taking stock of the possessions left behind by an older relative forced by circumstance to move into a “home.” The things we gather over time define us in our own minds, but say something completely different to the outside observer. Some people–my mother, for instance–want everything to be new and flashy and modern. To them, anything vintage or outdated belongs in the dumpster.

Me? I like retro anything, even if it’s so kitschy as to be rather…ugly. I wouldn’t want a room full of kitsch, but a few crazy pieces of tacky history here and there can make an otherwise bland a room POP. People who visit say, “Oh my goodness, where’d you get this? My crazy old aunt had one just like it!” A ceramic cat or a crazy lamp really take people back…to spring vacations spent at the houses of grandparents…to their own childhoods. Everyone sees something different.

It’s Aunt Bea’s kitchen, bizzitches! And don’t you forget it!

The story behind this photo and the ones that follow is this: I have a friend whose aunt is moving into a home, and it fell upon said friend to catalog the stuff left behind. His ladyfriend, Jennifer P., took pictures, and I found them to be quite moving.

(more…)

Forget bringing the outdoors in. Bring the indoors out.

With apologies to those who live in the southern hemisphere, I’d just like to say thank goodness that spring has finally sprung. I was getting terribly sick of keeping my house hermetically sealed against the cold and dreary weather. Now that I can finally sit outside without risking hypothermia, I’ve realized that my complement of weather resistant furniture is woefully inadequate.

In fact, my entire collection is limited to two plastic armchairs and one tiny plastic table because the only outdoor space I had as of a year ago was a 5′ by 10′ bit of deck hanging in space. Now I have a deck that’s quite a bit bigger and also overlooks an entire yard, which means I’m looking for an upgrade.

Sit!Stay!
Look!Nest?

In yet another moment of synchronicity, I was on the phone with my gram whining about my lack of weather-resistant seating surfaces when I found Ballard Designs‘ summertime catalog in my mailbox. I wasted the next fifteen minutes losing myself in daydreams of customizable umbrellas, intricate cast aluminum lounges, and faux bois planters.

So, yeah, it’s time to hose off the plastic and shop around for some good deals on outdoorsy accessories because $600 for a chaise isn’t going to happen any time soon.

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