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How to Be as Bright or as Bold as You Want to Be

The short answer: Just do it.

The Beard was initially skeptical when I suggested that we paint our kitchen purple, and a fairly intense purple, at that. But he’s gotten used to it, and when he happened to see some photos of how our kitchen used to look, he couldn’t believe how much the purple improved the space. Literally, I get nothing but compliments – though sometimes these are paired with comments like “I really didn’t think it would be as great as it is.” Uh, thanks?

And hey, if you told me you were thinking of painting your kitchen cabinets a pretty wild shade of pink, I might balk just a little bit. But if this kitchen from Sweden.se is any indication, painting a kitchen pink can be totally delicious. While there are some projects that don’t lend themselves to a quick do-over, why not go bright and bold when it comes to paint? You can always repaint the following weekend!

Four to a Fork, But Why?

Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History Of Private Life just hit the shelves, so I’ve been reading and hearing interviews with him for days now. One of the questions that comes up most frequently is ‘why are there four tines on a fork?’ Or on most forks, anyway. Go ahead, have a look in your silverware drawer. You’re probably going to see four tines.

Early forks had two tines – the modernish European table fork came into being in the 10th Century, and was viewed as something of an unmanly Italian affectation for many, many years. But forks of many forms have been in use since the period of the Ancient Greeks, at least as serving implements. Early forks had two tines and were entirely straight (so no scooping), but forks with more tines quickly caught on because it’s easy to spear yourself instead of your food when you’re using a two-tined fork. Before four tines became the hottest tine number, there were three-tined forks and five-tined forks, and I even found one with six tines (for serving sardines)!

Pretty printed forks by Vintage Garden

NtB Needs Your Help

Ladies and gentlemen, I need your help today. I’m in one of those mental places where I find myself torn between two different opinions. So you tell me, because I just can’t decide… Is this chair from Meritalia ugly? Or really, really freaking ugly?

Three Ways to Make Your Home Instantly Brighter

Want to instantly make your house or apartment more appealing and prettier, without spending more than, say, $10 or $20? Try decorating with fresh flowers! I know it sounds cliched and sort of old ladyish – not that there’s anything wrong with old ladies – but decorating with fresh flowers is one of the easiest, least expensive ways to give your dwelling a little, but very noticeable lift. No time to do a deep clean? Fresh flowers become a focal point. Ditto in those homes that, like mine, aren’t exactly picturesque from top to bottom.

Here are some simple tips on using flowers to prettify a house or apartment without spending a gazillion dollars:

- Don’t think you need a lot of very fancy vases. Right now, I have fresh flowers in an old wide mouth wine bottle and a tall Mason jar – the look is casual and fun, nut fussy or messy. Maybe you have an old bottle that can become a vase in a pinch? Alternately, put your flowers in something simple like a pint glass, then put the glass in something nicer but not watertight, like a basket or tin.

- Use your favorite colors, even if they don’t match your decor. Let your fresh flowers stand out, since they’re not going to last that long. Have fun with your choices and spread the love. You could, for example, have three big daises in each room of your home without breaking the bank. More small arrangements can be much more refreshing and uplifting than one big one. Why not have fresh flowers in the bathroom or on a windowsill. ed. note – if you have cats like mine, you’re better off with one large arrangement kept in a closet or at someone else’s house

- Think small and DIY. A few stems in an old perfume bottle placed right by your bed can be a lovely thing to wake up to. For this exercise, I’m definitely not suggesting that you need to have a florist make you up an arrangement. Imagine yourself picking flowers from your garden and setting them in some water, then buy some loose stems from the supermarket or farmer’s market or florist and do just that. No florist’s wire required.

Image via the talented Ngoc Minh Ngo

Tobi Wong’s Bed Still Inspires

Now that The Beard and I are on the verge of having a bedroom again, I find myself inspired by this bedroom in the tiny apartment now deceased Canadian designer Tobi Wong lived in from 1998 to 2003. Specifically, I find myself drawn to the bed, which is nothing more than a a futon mattress placed on a large piece of plywood balanced on five steel filing cabinets.

Maybe I wouldn’t use filing cabinets… how about two beautiful desks or dressers that one could use to contain all of the detritus of living? Or similarly, a few low-slung benches with drawers? All in all, there are lots of ways to create a DIY platform bed that looks cool and gives you some serious extra storage space, and most of them aren’t as industrial as this.

Droolworthy DIY: Card Catalog Style

It’s probably not often than one comes into possession of a full-sized card catalog cabinet, but it happens now and then, as it did to the Lentine Family of Dream Book Design. And, oh my gosh, I just cannot believe how they spruced that bad boy up. Seriously, I am salivating over here.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Curious as to how they did it? I was, too. Luckily, the Lentines are sweethearts and posted a pretty specific tutorial that includes the supplies they used and how they used them. You know, just in case you end up with a card catalog on your hands.

Images via Dream Book Design

P.S. – Happy birthday to me!

Winterizing An Apartment

Ah, home winterization tips. They work great for people like me – I have the freedom to damage my home because I own some percentage of it. But what about renters in chilly flats in cities and suburbs? As someone who once upon a time lived in an apartment with wall cracks so large that frigid air blew in along with huge old windows (fun in summer, hellish in winter), I sympathize. What good are home winterization tips like “Install energy efficient windows” and “Add extra insulation to your attic”? Because, yeah, your landlord is just going to looooove that.

With that in mind, here are some tips for winterizing an apartment so you can stay warm without losing your security deposit:

1. Caulk (with rope caulk) around all of the windows and seal them with plastic… BUT if you have painted sills, don’t use the tape that sometimes comes in the kits because at winter’s end it will peel you paint off. Use masking tape instead. You’ll probably have to re-tape at least once during the season.

2. Install fire-retardant foam insulation pads inside of outlet covers and switch plates. Sure, the word “install” can be scary for renters, but your landlord will never know it’s there and especially in old apartments with a lot of outside walls, it can make a world of difference. Weather stripping on drafty doors and windows is another installable option that won’t make your landlord’s eyes bulge out.

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Tree Beds, Five Ways

If you’re looking for a four-poster bed with a twist, how about a tree bed? That way, you can have four posts or fourteen, depending. And it’s a wacky, but adorable way to catch some Zs in the great outdoors without all the muss and fuss of camping. I’d love the first one or the fourth one, but depending on how rustic you want to go, you might love the others more!


(via)

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A Sweet Set of Stairs or a Trip to the ER?

When small spaces have an upstairs and a downstairs, it’s still more common to have stairs in place than, say, a ladder or a tiny elevator. But stairs can take up a lot of room, even so-called space saving stairway options like traditional spiral staircases. Enter EeStairs, with what it calls its efficient stairs.

Space saving stairs like these give you more free floorspace in your home while also giving you access to the next floor up (like any other staircase) but EeStairs efficient staircases are built differently from most in that they start with a plain metal tube that reaches from floor to ceiling and then attach steps to the tube. If you need stairs that are extra tiny, these space saving stairs are made to fit into openings of just 1m x 1m and are designed to be placed where no staircase was ever intended to go.

Hmmm. I like the idea, I like the execution, love the look… but judging by the number of times I have butt slid down my stairs into the family room, a call to EeStairs is probably not in my future. Would you give them a go?

The Grass Is Always Greener When You Don’t Have to Cry Over Spilled Milk

Here are two things that tickled my fancy today:

First, the Spilt Milk Bowl by Fred and Friends. Made of silicone, it is malleable and durable, easy to clean, and a great size for cereal or one-portion dishes. The perfect gift for the cereal addict in your life.

And then this, a customized IKEA ‘lack’ side table that offers up 3025 cm^2 of organic green space by ISO 216. I’m thinking you could easily DIY this with a little no-frills patio table, some plastic edging, dirt, and grass seeds. Voila! Your very own lawn!