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DIY | Manolo for the Home - Part 10
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Exploring Eliphante

The NYT Home & Garden section (a bit of rad I recommend everyone read) had a wonderful piece on Eliphante, a Cornville, Arizona home built by an artist and his wife over the course of twenty-eight years. When the late Michael Kahn and Leda Livant began building on the property Eliphante inhabits, they didn’t even own it. Driftwood, stones, pottery, shards of glass, construction scraps, and even astroturf became building materials in Kahn’s somewhat capable hands.

The trunk that gave the compound its name

Was there a floor plan? Did they discuss the number of bedrooms, the layout of the kitchen?

“We didn’t think in those terms,” says Ms. Livant, who is 82. “We thought shelter from the elements and a beautiful place to live in: stained glass and pottery and wood, sleeping loft and a fireplace. Michael had no definite plan except to work and see what the natural shape would be. If you stay with a preconceived notion of what you want, it could be too restrictive.”

There are, of course, more photos under the cut!


Don’t call me a tomboy just because I’m a capable woman

But does it benefit breast cancer research?

You know I love color. I love bright playful colors enough to somehow overlook the fact that a purple toaster will run you a sick $300! So you’d think that I’m sitting here with credit card in hand ordering myself a pink tool belt, right? Wrong. The Beard will tell you that I am the DIY queen, whether you’re talking about epoxying the hell out of something wobbly or refinishing a cabinet I found in someone else’s trash. Sure, there are some things I won’t do–big appliance installations, for instance–but I’m competent when it comes to small home improvements.

I think that double X chromosome construction workers rock. More specifically, I think they rock because they have made a career for themselves in what is still considered a tremendously masculine profession. The construction trade has its own line of accessories…safety glasses, hard hats, work boots, and such. These typically come in shades of brown and black with the occasional bit of gray. They come in these colors for one simple reason: they are going to get very, very dirty.

How long will those Tomboy Trades pink boots stay pink? How long is a Tomboy Trades baby blue tool belt going to be baby blue? If they’re still pink and blue after a couple of weeks, you’re doing something wrong. Construction work is dusty…there are solvents and paints and oily liquids to contend with. Thus the brown! The lack! The gray! And how about that Charlie’s Angels-esque design on the hard hat…I’m sure that’s gonna command plenty of respect down at the construction site, right?

You could pair it with this for spectacular effect:

Something nice for the ladies?

Redecorating? Plot Spaces With Paper!

Take a fresh look at your living room

Before the official launch of the blog, I wrote about shopping your home when you need a decor pick-me-up. What do you do, though, when you’ve found all of the perfect new furniture for a certain room in your house or apartment, but you have no clue how to arrange them? When I find myself facing this conundrum, I put scissors to paper.

I could explain myself in my own words, but Seeds of Knowledge wrote it out so succinctly:

1. Measure your room. Draw it to scale on graph paper which you can find at your local discount store. Use a 1/4 in. equal 1 ft. scale. If you can’t figure out how to draw out scale, ask your know-it-all teenage son!

2. Mark anything on your room drawing that will affect the arrangement of the room. Outlets, telephone, cable, light switches, windows, doors that open in, the space between windows, and the height of the window sills are all things that should be measured and noted.

3. This is the fun part! Make scale paper cutouts of your furniture (just like cutting out paper dolls!) Use the cutouts to arrange and rearrange the furniture in your room until you are satisfied with the result.

That’s it — without breaking a sweat, you can be sure your old rooms with their new furniture will look wonderful in their new configuration. Even if you find drawing tedious, it beats asking your friends, significant other, or “know-it-all teenage son” to help you move your couch over and over and over again.

A Home That Can Roam


Caravans aren’t just for gypsies, according to a certain Daphne. They can be retreats, guest quarters, studios, sheds, playhouses, and more, provided you have somewhere to store them when they’re not rolling on the open road.


You can even live in a caravan as Daphne did if you’re ready to eschew some of the comforts of home — heat and indoor plumbing come to mind. Apparently, the popularity of traditional caravan living is undergoing a resurgence in the UK.

If you’re in love with the idea of having a house that you can hitch up to your car, there are DIY caravan kits for sale at The New Gypsy Caravan. At around $500 for the double bed model, it’s a rather budget-friendly way to roam if you can turn a blind eye to the inevitable increase in gas expenditures.

Would you give caravan living a go if you had the time and the freedom?

Ikea Redux: Repurposing Flat Pack

What you see isn’t always what you getTa da!

Give an Ikea ISIG to lifestyle guru Matthew Mead and you’ll end up with something lovely. I found his easy-peasy DIY directions through ikea hacker, a blog devoted to finding the most interesting and innovative uses for boring old Ikea flat pack furniture.

Go and check ikea hacker out, then come back and tell me about your most creative Ikea furniture hacks. After all, just because something came from Ikea (or the Goodwill or the Dollar Tree) doesn’t mean it has to look like it did!

Stretch Your Decorating Budget By Shopping Your Home

When The Beard and I moved into our new house, we didn’t exactly have a lot of moolah left over to dedicate to decor. Our apartment was of course nothing like the house, and I’m big into decorating to suit a space. I could have just settled and saved–to some extent I still am–but who wants to live in an uncomfortable habitat? Not me, that’s for sure.

Note that this is not actually my house

I feel good and work well in spaces that have a nice homey quality to them. Had I just moved each room of the apartment to the corresponding room of the house, I would have gone crazy. Maybe it’s just an obsessive compulsivity that drives me to want everything to be in its rightful place, but I knew that I needed to make my house into my home as quickly as possible.

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