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

Small Spaces In San Fran

It’s fun to see how much house I can buy in other parts of the country with the $300,000 I spent on my own. Sometimes, I cringe knowing that I could have had a big ol’ farmhouse with a nice bit of land in middle America somewhere. Then there are other times when I have to laugh because my chunk of change buys a mere 250 to 350 square feet of living space!

250 square feet in SoMa

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a piece about the apartments in The Cubix Yerba Buena building in SoMa. The Building is filled with “micro-units,” which are essentially tiny little studio apartments that are smaller than the finished half of my basement.

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Delayed Gratification

I always wondered what first motivates rats in experiments to push that magical lever that delivers a delicious morsel of kibble, cheese, or crack cocaine.

You’ll be well-trained in no time

Now I can finally find out! Chococlock is a clock that delivers a treat every hour on the hour…if, that is, you are deft enough to grab it within thirty seconds. Too slow? The shutters close, and you’re out of luck for another sixty minutes. Well, there’s always the cheat button.

For the weak-willed amongst you the Chococlock features a naughty but nice cheat button that will deliver a treat whenever you press it. Yes, that does rather defeat the whole ‘good things come to those who wait’ ethos, but don’t worry, we won’t tell.

The young Lindsay Lohan clone in the pic above seems pretty jazzed about Chococlock. I’d suggest modding it for more excitement — perhaps by affixing pointy spikes to the shutters so the whole thirty-second rule takes on a new diabolical twist. Maybe you could rig it so it delivers a hallucinogenic chocolate 15% of the time, or just take a cue from the lab rats, toss the chocky altogether, and fill that bad boy up with some science-grade crack cocaine.

Hey, I Don’t Own a Summer Home, Too!

In the wake of the mild complaint I made about home decor magazines the other day, I thought of something else I don’t like about rags like Elle Decor. Too many make the assumption that I have a main house, a guest house, a pool house, an oversized shed with a studio in it, an outdoor kitchen, a three-car garage that’s been converted into a home gym, and a summer home to round it all off.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to afford a little beach shack

That’s why, I think, a Slate essay by Timothy Noah struck a particularly strong chord with me. Noah, you see, is much like me in that he also has no summer home.

I do not own a summer house. The summer house I don’t own has not been in the family for three generations. It’s a simple, shingled affair, weathered and dear, with fishnets not hanging from the ceiling, duck decoys not arrayed on the shelves, and a large, yellowing map of the area, festooned with incomprehensible nautical markings, not stuck to the wall with pushpins not manufactured in 1954. I love the scent it doesn’t give off of mothballs mingled with mold.

Imagine—air-conditioning here! Open a window, for God’s sake! We finally didn’t put in window units a few years ago, but only because of the kids. They’re also the reason we didn’t break down a few years ago and put in a small pool. Though I must admit I’ve come to prefer not taking my morning laps there to not walking out every morning to the shore and not diving into that bracing cold water.

Now Labor Day’s coming. I’ll not shut the house up for winter, and not drain and cover up the pool, and not remind the caretaker to not keep an eye on the place until June, when we don’t start returning on weekends. What a lovely, languid ritual it is that I don’t engage in. I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t not have a summer place. Just like the one I don’t have.

All kidding aside, even my beloved Cottage Living has changed. When I first began reading it years ago on the treadmill at my local Y — long before I even considered buying a home — I delighted in its chic solutions for small spaces. Nowadays, the “cottages” that one tends to see in its pages are far larger than the plenty spacious house I grew up in! You say the economic forecast is bleak? Someone tell that to the editors.

Not having something doesn’t mean one can’t imagine oneself having it, of course. I will very likely end up with an inherited summertime pied-à-terre in Central America sometime in the very distant future. But it is nice — after surrounding myself with images of the prosperous leisure class — to know that I’m not alone in not having access to the finer things in life at this time in my life.

Inside Out Inspiration

Negative space becomes a positive feature when glass (and Lucite) artists start turning the world upside down. Forms take shape in the air — we see them only when we are actively looking.

I ain’t afraid of no ghostsNegative space is a positive thing
The mystery is revealed when it’s time to drinkHidden iconography?

Jon Russell’s Ghost Candelabra finds its roots in 19th-century design — glass cups sit in a Lucite base that folds flat for storage. Compare it to the Abra Candelabras created by Alberto Mantilla and Anthony Baxter. Candles are suspended in midair in candlesticks that don’t actually exist. Alissia Melka Teichroew’s Inside Out Champagne Glasses and Inside Out Martini Glasses only reveal their secrets when filled with libations.

I like the subtle sneakiness of these pieces, which makes their down-to-earth usefulness all the nicer.

A Convertible for Parents-to-Be

Getting knocked up means a lot of things. It means buying a whole lot of those plastic outlet covers. A future of furtive nookie reminiscent of one’s high school days. Learning to tolerate the smell of strained peas. It also means no more thinking seriously about buying a Smart Car convertible.

No ‘vroom vroom’ here!

But wait — It’s not all spit up and self-sacrifice! Here’s a convertible that parents-to-be can get excited about. Okay, maybe not. But it sure beats buying a crib, a toddler bed, a big-kid bed, and a guest bed to replace that old twin bed your kid will take to his or her first studio apartment.

Airline Chic?

For a mere $3770, you can own a chair that looks like an airplane beverage cart circa 1970!

Chicken, fish, or chair?

I wonder if the chair will let me have the soda can sans ice if I’m very charming when it comes down the aisle to offer me a drink.

Wasn’t it easy to move before turning it into a cube?

Stupid chair! Whaddya mean you’re all out of vegetarian meals?! For $3770, I better damn well get my vegetarian meal.

NtB Craves: Monochromaticism

Here kitty kitty kitty!Spooky?Who cares if it's comfy?
Now I want a napCoordinated with what, exactly?What could I make with this, hmmm?

In my heart of hearts, I’m lazy. I usually start decorating with two colors (or non-colors, whatever) and then branch out color-wise as I see things I like. My living room, for example, started with a palette of blues and browns, but I’ve since added orange, which meshes with everything else a lot better than you might at first imagine.

Black and white are easy starting points because ‘black and white’ is a proven combo. Once you’ve got your timeless and classy black and white interior established, you can start adding other hues, like vivid red, bright yellow, baby blue, or even apple green. Voila! Instant eye draws!

Buildings grown from stone

Ah, Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet…better known to most as Antoni Gaudí. When he received the title of architect from the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona after five years of study, his instructor allegedly said, “Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius. Time will tell.”

Indeed, time is very telling.

Melting?

Have his designs maintained their otherworldliness? Do they continue to awaken awe in those who gaze upon them?

Just look at those cuves!

Can we, as mere spectators, appreciate what Gaudí was trying to convey? Will his hyperboloids and paraboloids stand the test of eons?

No less distinguished inside

Who can say? Perhaps only time. I personally find myself entranced by the curves in his creations, but that’s just me. There are those for whom beauty can only be found in the straight line. What does it all mean? Simply that YMMV.

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