When I was a wee one, I was enthralled by a book of my grandmothers that featured beautiful color photographs of underground houses. Artfully rendered, the images perked my interest. Underground houses? Who lives in an underground house, and where does one build an underground house? I’d never seen one in person… in fact, I still haven’t, but I’ve never really lost my enthusiasm for the idea.
That’s why I’m a fan of the above book. The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book, written in 1981 by Mike Oehler and illustrated by Chris Royer, is a DIY manual for those interested in building their own underground houses on the cheap. When they say $50, they’re not kidding. In fact, one blogger described the book thusly:
The methods are so low tech, a bum could make himself a mansion. Other books get into engineering with concrete, steel, rebar, etc., which cost a fortune and don’t necessarily function any better and, in some cases, maybe not as well. With this book and the videos, which are a must if you get serious, you really can build a home for the cost of a roll of plastic and a few other items, provided you do the labor by hand and scrounge materials.
But be warned — the book’s author doesn’t give a lick about pesky things like building codes or safety regulations. Unless you’re planning on squatting in a plot of wilderness where it’s unlikely that the home inspector will ever find your subterranean property, the tips and hints offered in the book aren’t going to get you your $50 home. Still, it’s an interesting and fun read that shows you what could be if lawlessness ever becomes the norm.
Once upon a time, I interviewed Colin Cowie for a book on wedding flowers. This was before he had really hit the mainstream big time, but he was definitely on an upward track and it came through in his answers to my questions. I found him to be a little too focused on design over the wants of his clients, but I could understand why he would approach his work in that way. He was, after all, building a brand. Of course, now that he’s built his brand, he’s selling home decor on HSN, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.
What’s he selling? Let’s take a look.
The teak and synthetic wicker Westminster modular chair is apparently enduringly elegant. In fact, the ad copy tells me, you’ll be hesitant to leave once your butt is parked in this chair. Personally, I think the combo of the teak and the wicker is just too much. One or the other, please.
According to the description, I can put cocktails, soda, lemonade, juice, water and more in thisdouble-wall pitcher set. That’s good, I suppose, but what’s the green stuff? Only the food photography designer knows for sure.
I just like the color combos in this picture. The Westminster dining table? Eh, pass.
Decor items like this hammered metal bowl only really appeal to me if they’re useful. The decorative bowls I have now don’t do much, so I wouldn’t spring for this, but that’s just me.
I have to wonder… does ending up on the HSN web site or on the shelves of K*Mart make good designers suddenly less good?
Vancouver furniture designer Judson Beaumont knows how to have a good time. While his company, Straight Line Designs, sounds like it would produce nothing but conservative pieces for conservative people, the furniture that comes from Straight Line Designs is actually anything but straight-laced.
In fact, whimsical is the best way to describe Beaumont’s pieces.
Visiting the company’s web site page is worth it for a glance at the gallery, which is full of images of “tear away” cabinets, curvy credenzas, and some seriously amazing furniture for kids that no doubt costs a pretty penny but is likely worth every one. You can commission custom furniture if that fits into your budget, and Beaumont is happy to work with international customers.
Forget baskets or those ubiquitous plastic bins — I’m in love with these bucket bags crafted by the author of the beautiful blog maya*made.
They’re constructed of sturdy food-grade jute from a recycled (fair trade) coffee sack and lined with unbleached cotton for a subtle, rustic look. She currently has itty-bitty buckets in her Etsy shop (or she did when I wrote this) but I’m hoping the future will bring with it more and bigger buckets.
Nursery furniture makes me giggle. The individual using said furniture will not remember it — they’ll only ever see it in pictures. If they don’t grow out of the cutesy-poo patterns when they graduate to their first big kid bed, they will sure as sugar get mighty sick of it when the first pangs of puberty hit.
Then again, even though The Beard and I are skipping the nursery — babies bunk in my home office until they’re ready for proper rooms — I still love to look at all the sets of baby bedding and the cribs, changing tables, and accessories. My rational brain says we don’t actually need them. My lizard brain says “Aren’t there some small expenses we could put off, like making the upstairs bedrooms livable or paying off our student loans?” Thankfully, my rational brain wins every time and I can browse for baby without actually buying.
…of course, sometime it is an epic battle. Right now, in particular, I’m digging on some of the unisex baby gear from NoJo.
Jonathan Adler is my secret boyfriend. He may not be jacked all the way into the whole uber high style racket, but that’s why I like him so much. Adler is playful. He’s quirky. And, unlike so many of the designers I dig on here on the blog, Adler’s stuff actually goes on sale AND reaches prices that I can almost afford!
Maybe not so much the furniture, though. I can ask for a hundred dollar vase for my birthday, but there’s no way Santa is going to bring me a gorgeous and glamorous $5,500 for Christmas. Oh well, at least it’s fun to look, right?
I’ll admit it… no, I’ll proclaim it! Quite a bit of the furniture and decor in my house came from secondhand sources. Sometimes that has meant sweet hand-me-downs from well-off relatives, and sometimes it has meant finding the perfect thing along the side of the road. How much I do to this inherited and rescued furniture depends on how much TLC it needs. Painting furniture is a favorite rejuvenation technique of mine — especially when it comes to accents that aren’t usually painted.
I’m wondering, however, if I’m, a homeowner at 29, the exception or the rule. Are you enthusiastic about DIY furniture rescue or do you look askance at the people you see gleefully dragging dressers into the back of their minivans on garbage day? What is your opinion of the usual quality of DIY results? When you answer, hit the poll first, then explain yourself in the comments!