Archive - January, 2011

The $3 Hall Tree? Yup!

For some reason, really cool, really cheap DIY projects using scavenged materials keep showing up in my inbox. Okay, the reason is you perfectly wonderful people! This find came to me via the lovely Leane:

Looks good, no? The handy folks at The Corner Lot put together an entire hall tree or entryway bench or whatever you want to call it using old door jambs and real beadboard. Stuff from their basement, too. What cost $3? The wood dowels that make a perfect drying rack for wet mittens and socks.

All that’s left to do is finish it, and I hope that there’s a new post on The Corner Lot when they do. Don’t leave us hanging!

What have you done on the cheap lately?

Mismatched Dining Chairs Take the Blah Out of Budgeting

When outfitting the kitchen or the dining room with somewhere to sit, don’t feel like you have to buy four or six or eight matching chairs – especially if buying eight of the chairs you love is way impossible within the confines of your budget! Mismatched dining chairs can be a lot of fun when you make the effort to have fun with them. Let’s say you can get ONE of those chairs you love. Why not source the rest of thrift or consignment shops or Craigslist? Look for interesting shapes that complement that favorite chair – but don’t worry too much about color, because paint and glaze can go a long way toward achieving a unified look. See?

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Great Ideas: Separate Your Sleeping Space

How restful is this gorgeous bed nook photographed by Michael J Lee Photography? Besides the fact that the design of the nook itself is such a fun nod to Arabian style, finishing it off with real walls makes it feel like a sanctuary from the rest of the room, the rest of the home, and daytime life. It’s a place to go curl up and read and a place where the real world can’t intrude on your dreams.

Something like this can even work beautifully in a small bedroom, even though it’s going to chop up an already tiny space, because it creates areas of specialization that make that space more useful overall. Here’s where you relax… here’s where you get dressed… maybe there’s a little desk over here where you pay bills or do a little weekend work. And your bed remains just a bed, never stressful or cluttered up with stuff.

Tolix: One Cure for the Boring Dining Room

Let’s say you’re bored with your current dining area outfit: a wood table, four wood chairs that feature precisely the same shade of stain. It’s basic, maybe there’s a padded seat or cushions, but nothing to showy. And let’s say, too, that you’re looking to get away from the whole matchy-matchy thing in your entire home. Your newest obsession is mismatched…everything, from mismatched bedside tables to mismatched headboards and more. First step? Lose either the table or the chairs – and right now, I’m thinking it’s the chairs that have to go. You can replace them with these:

And just what are they? Those would be classic Tolix chairs – Chair A, specifically – designed by Burgundy artisan Xavier Pauchard in 1937 for the Tolix brand he himself launched.

It was the fifth time that day that Xavier Pauchard had left his office and headed – impatiently – to the workshops. Walking towards his foreman’s workbench Xavier Pauchard pushed back the black beret that seemingly never left his head and examined with his expert’s eye the prototype stackable chair that was the object of the team’s unstinting endeavours. “This will be the Model A” he said to himself. Tinsnips in hand he deftly began to fashion a new seat base from a sheet of steel. Working on his tinsmiths block he then started to hammer away, curving the steel to the exact shape he wanted. “Tack it together please,” said Xavier Pauchard, who was keen to see a trial assembly. Pierre Moreau roughly assembled the various elements with a few dabs of weld. “That’s enough for today,” Moreau said as he left the workshop, glancing as he went at the strange metal chair that so obsessed Monsieur X.

That’s a pretty romantic backstory for a chair, non? And why not? It’s a rather romantic chair, appearing as it has in just the sort of French bars and brasseries that you and I would no doubt like to be sitting at right at this very moment. But let’s get back to that wooden table of yours. There’s nothing wrong with a nice sturdy wood table that will last for decades under the stresses of both dinner parties and children wielding crayons like daggers. It just so happens that the strong straight modern lines of the Toilix Chair A look amazing next to an old wood table that’s a bit beat up. You could go scouring the world for originals, but they’re not easy to come by from what I’ve heard. It will probably cost you less in the long run to get the re-issue, which is sold in lots of places in various colors and finishes.

(For those who, like me, can’t afford a set of Tolix chairs just at this moment, there are always basic brushed aluminum chairs to fill the gap until the money rolls in.)

Inspiration: White Brick Walls

Once upon a time, I helped a pair of friends paint an apartment in a cool industrial part of Brooklyn. This particular apartment had charming exposed brick in both bedrooms (along with less charming exposed pipes everywhere else) and I was absolutely stunned when said friends informed me that painting the walls white also meant painting the brick white. Quelle horreur! But looking back now, I think maybe I was in the wrong and they were in the right, because a painted brick wall in an interior space looks a lot fresher and more inviting than brick that looks like it belongs on the outside of a building. Don’t you think?


via UXUS Design

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Office Inspiration from Turquoise

The home office can be an afterthought for a lot of people – that is, if you have the space to devote an entire room to working. This is especially the case among those who don’t work at home and would honestly rather not feel compelled to give up precious square footage to work-related gear. But since I work from home, I tend to empathize with those who do, too, and would probably like somewhere sweet to sit as they endure the daily grind. I used to have a nice home office, until I gave it up during the renovations, and now I fear that I’ll never again work from anywhere but the kitchen table. I’d prefer to be working in here, though:

Seeing this oh-so-inviting space designed by Turquoise makes me long for my old office. Oh, we’ll have another home office someday, but it will be shared and that means it will be at least halfway to messy most of the time. But a girl can dream, right? I’d love to know what your home office sitch is. Do you have one? Is it grand? Would you love to have one, but the space just isn’t there? Or are you content to leave work at work where it belongs so that extra room can stay a den/guest room/nursery/gaming space?

Image: Turquoise

Mismatched Bedside Tables: Yes or No?

As mentioned in a post earlier this week, I’m devoting a lot of my excess brainpower – what little there is – to putting together my future bedroom. When it comes to furniture, the only matching stuff we have in terms of furniture is the bed and two matching bedside tables. Which, frankly, is fine with me because I’m not a big fan of coordinating bedroom sets. And since I much prefer the look of rooms with lots of different kinds of furniture and accessories, I’m leaning toward using the existing bedside tables elsewhere in the house and pulling two other tables from who knows where to use as bedside tables, bringing me to the question I posed in the headline. What do you think of mismatched bedside tables?

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Not Necessarily My Style, But I’m Still In Lust

I don’t know the story behind this table – I found it on my wanderings and a Tineye search yielded nothing – but I’m finding it really, really inspirational. Normally, I lean toward Saarinen’s beautiful Tulip table when I think of how I’d like to outfit my kitchen. But there’s something about invading my rather artificial and absurdly colorful cooking and eating space with natural, unfinished wood that makes me feel a little giddy.

Does anyone else get a kick out of doing that – of taking something ridiculously out of place and making it the focal point of a room that’s decorated in a completely different style?

5 Ways to Create Calmer Interiors

Creating calmer interiors – and I’m talking about your home’s interior and your interior – doesn’t have to mean sending the kids to boarding school or firing your SO and moving to a house or apartment that will actually contain the detritus of day-to-day living. Not that those things won’t necessarily help, but I prefer to think of them as last resorts. Steps better taken after trying things like decluttering your living room and creating more space through trickery. Not that there’s anything wrong with a frenetic interior, of course, or a shabby one, if that’s what you’re into. But for some people – particularly people whose lives are filled with stress and chaos – home needs to be an oasis.

1. Choose calming colors for every room in your home, including your home office if you have one. Color affects mood, so stay away from colors that make you feel awake and energized, but don’t make the opposite mistake and go for those that make you feel sluggish or depressed. You could look at a color therapy chart to find the most calming hues, but only you know what colors make you feel serene, relaxed, and happy. For some, that might mean a bright turquoise or lemon, while for others, it could mean a darkish sea foam green. This is where those sample tins of paint come in handy. Put a square of your favorite by your bed – how does seeing it in the morning make you feel? How about at night?

2. Make every room of your home inviting to promote feelings of calm. Ever notice that people at parties will often congregate in the kitchen? It’s because people feel comfortable and nurtured where the food is. How can you make the rest of your home as inviting as the kitchen? First, choose comfortable furniture that looks good but doesn’t put out a ‘no touching’ vibe. Furniture should be touchable – and while it might be unseemly to throw oneself onto a couch or chair, the most calming furniture is the kind you can relax into. Second, give yourself something aesthetically pleasing to admire. Do you have a painting or accessory that you find peaceful? Or an heirloom that brings to mind happy thoughts of your favorite relatives? Display them where you need hard-hitting mood elevators.

3. Go all-natural, with materials and textiles that Mother Nature created – especially in the bathroom and in the bedroom. There’s just something about the real stuff that is conducive to letting go of stress. Things that come to mind are a durable seagrass rug or a rush ottoman, lovely linen curtains or pillows, lots of natural wood or wicker, and hey, maybe even plenty of windows that give you views of actual nature if you’re lucky enough to have some right outside of your front door. In the bathroom, a bamboo bath mat is so much nicer underfoot than your standard fuzzy one.

4. Keep surfaces clutter free, because seeing clutter all around you is guaranteed to interfere with your ability to achieve serenity. That’s not to say you have to keep all of your surfaces free of everything except for lamps and whatever book you’re reading at the moment. Just make sure that everything that’s on top of your night stand, dressers, side tables, coffee table, etc. is either beautiful to look at or something you want easy access to in the immediate future or all the time. In other words, no letting papers build up or dumping the contents of your pockets onto the kitchen counter every day after work (unless you clean it up before bedtime).

5. Think simple! A lot of people are put off by the idea of minimalism, since most of us feel much more comfortable when we’ve built ourselves cocoons of *stuff*. And voluntary simplicity still sounds so fadish, even though it’s completely mainstream by this point. I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your stuff save for your bed and one chair and a desk, but rather that you shouldn’t feel compelled to fill every last inch of your home with furniture and carpets and decorative items just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. If you love that look – think a controlled chaos of comfort – then fabu. But more people than not find it’s hard to feel calm in a space when there’s just too much going on in it.

NtB Wants: A Couple of These for the Bedroom

I’m not sure anyone will remember my mentioning it, but we had one our upstairs rooms done and it’s finally finished. Well, structurally, anyway. At this point we have the paint sitting in the landing, ready to go (two shades of gray, one light and one dark, for those curious). We just need to actually find the time to throw down tarps and tape up and paint. No easy feat when your family is comprised of two professionals and a toddler plus five cats who’d like nothing more than to track paint through the entire house.

At the moment, I’m trying to avoid thinking about when we’ll get around to painting so we can actually move in – this is our bedroom I’m talking about – and instead I am actively thinking what I am going to put in there! Right at this second, what I’d really like to put in there is at least one of these:

Walnut and powder-coated steel come together in a vintage-look side table that would look so gorgeous with the pair of low slung mcm-era Danish dressers my grandparents gave me who knows how long ago now. The designer is one Joel Nolan, and he is happy to recreate this side table in custom sizes and finishes in case the teal legs and interior just aren’t doing it for you like they are doing it for me.

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