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But Did I Really Dream of the Butterfly?

Yellow is a vibrant, energetic color, but it can also be as relaxing as it is invigorating. When combined with scads of languid butterflies in this
hand-painted Chinese storage cabinet and situated in a bedroom or den, this hue becomes very relaxing.

34-Inch Antique Style Yellow Wood Storage Cabinet Vintage Butterfly Design

The butterflies themselves are rendered in springtime pastel paints mixed with “tongfen,” or bronze powder, to guarantee a fadeless gleam. Two large doors swing open on “menzhou,” an ancient hinge-less mechanism which allows them to be easily and completely removed, revealing ample interior storage space. The doors are kept securely closed with custom bronze butterfly hardware from which flowerpot handles hang beneath a peach key latch.

In Chinese thought, butterflies represent change, rebirth, and duality. Zhuangzi, a Taoist poet and philosopher, wrote “I once dreamed I was a butterfly fluttering here and there. But did I really dream of the butterfly? Or is the butterfly now dreaming of me?” A thought-provoking question, indeed.

The Wartime Home

It seems that today, being Memorial Day, is an appropriate day to post about how wartime homes can positively influence the evolution of small and/or affordable housing, at least in terms of interior space utilization. You see, once upon a time in the post-WWII era, the family home tended to be smaller, forcing the people who lived therein to make the most of all available space.

“In the same way that the proud new householders of wartime homes made numerous accommodations and undertook several modifications as a means of coping with the small size of their residences, so too can designers of contemporary affordable housing devise methods of living comfortably in a space no larger than 1,000 square feet,” state [Avi Friedman and Maria Pantalopoulos’s in “The Wartime Home as a Paradigm for Today’s Affordable Housing Design” (1996)]

I have a personal interest in this sort of thing, because my own home (which measures in at 1,100 square foot) was built just after WWII. While it’s not quite affordable housing, it is on the smallish side, so The Beard and I do what we can to keep our little cottage tidy and clutter free. We do a good job, too, though I can’t say we are quite so thorough as the homeowner in this wartime home case study:

wartime homes

One Affordable Housing Research Project drew the following conclusions from Friedman and Pantelopoulos’ article:

SPACE
There are numerous ways a space can be designed so that it feels more comfortable and inviting. The relationship of rooms whether they are adjacent or removed can interrupt or guide the circulation patterns in a home. The amount of natural light that enters a room is also important. Usually, a space will feel larger when there is a plentiful source of natural light entering the room. Floor space is extremely valuable in today’s compact houses. Built in furniture is an excellent way to maintain maximum floor space, especially in bedrooms where built in furniture eliminates the need for dressers and desks.

STORAGE
Abundant storage is necessary in the design of today’s compact houses. Storage is a key selling point, because families accumulate more and more belongings the longer they live in one home. Therefore, the designer must be receptive to the demands for ample storage when designing a small, compact house (Friedman and Pantelopoulos, 1996, 191). There are many ways unused spaces should be used for storage, such as in the corners of rooms, and areas near the ceiling. Attics and basements are also ideal areas for adequate storage space.

Yes, yes, and yes. Then again, is it just me, or does this all seem like common sense?

Done Working? Fold the Workaday World Away Pt. II

For those small space enthusiasts — or those forced by circumstance to live in small spaces — who don’t have much room for office essentials like desks and filing cabinets in their homes, but think that the foldaway desk from Ikea is just a tad too wee for comfort, I present this:

compact desk

No, it’s not a chest of drawers or a mini dresser or a nightstand, though I suppose it could be used as such. Rather, it’s a complete desk designed especially with those without much room in mind. See?

compact desk

Sold by Crate and Barrel, this unique space-saving desk is a clever way to make the most of small spaces.

When open, the top of the cabinet reveals generous storage space for a laptop, plus cubbies with removable dividers to stow paper clips, rubber bands and other smalls. Cord cutouts in back let you charge iPods, laptop and cell phones. Below are a storage drawer and one letter- and legal-size file. Integrated wood handles run the length of the drawers, which slide smoothly on ball-bearing glides.

At $499, it’s not exactly the kind of brilliant Craigslist find I treasured in my own days living in small spaces, but it’s not that high a price to pay for a piece of functional furniture that will actually fit into the bedroom of a tiny Brooklyn walk-up.

You’ll Get Legs. You’ll Know How to Use Them.

Good wines have good legs. Some men are leg men. When you’re in a solid spot, you’ve got a leg to stand on. And when it comes to original and funky furniture, you just can’t have too many legs. Interchangeable legs, that is.

multi-leg cabinet

The Showtime Multileg Cabinet designed by Jaime Hayon for BD Barcelona costs $4,950. For that price, you get your choice of colors. Pay a bit more, and you can get as many modules as you like. Oh, and did I mention the legs? Because the legs really are the selling point here. Inspired, apparently, by classic MGM musicals, the crazy, mismatched legs snap in and out of the cabinet so it never looks the same twice.

Available at The Future Perfect

My Dream Studio

So, does anyone feel like giving me a crapload of money? I mean donating DONATING… yeah, that’s the ticket… a crapload of money to, uh, a foundation promoting, er, beauty and culture in, um, my house? Because I need NEED to replicate Jenny B. Allsorts’* creative studio in my own home. For reals

studio

What’s that? No one is raising their hands? Shame, that. I guess I’ll have to wait and try to finagle something almost as keen using the stuff I already have. Oh, and hope that Ms. Allsorts doesn’t come after me for using her photo without asking. It was just too amazing of a space not to show off immediately, and maybe if I pimp her Etsy shop, it’ll make things all right?

*The alias of one Jenny B. Harris, talented children’s book illustrator!

A Toy Box Worth Saving

I can’t stop squeeing over these toy boxes from Mod Mom Furniture. When I was a wee one, I had a toy box, but it was nothing compared to these!

toy box

owl toy box

The crafter describes her wares thusly: “Construction: MADE TO ORDER. Made from eco-friendly 1/2 inch Baltic Birch plywood from Russia (E1 Certified)as well as USA-based Columbia Wood Products Purebond 3/4 inch birch plywood, hand drawn and cut veneer cut-outs, no-voc paint from Pittsburgh paints and low-voc, water-based polyurethane from Deft.”

The only thing that disturbs me is that you lift the lid on the owl toy box by sticking your fingers in the bird’s eye holes…

Jenna Rose’s Big Bins

For those in the market for storage bins that don’t have to be tucked away in closets and under beds, may I recommend these big totes from Jenna Rose?

cloth bins

Linen, cotton, and canvas make them durable enough to hold crafting supplies or to tough it out in kids’ rooms, and the handles make for easy transport from room to room. They come in three prints, and they measure 16” in diameter and 18” high. Eighty bucks will get you one big bin…

Which is why I feel obligated to say that if you have even the slightest skill with a sewing machine, you really ought to just make your own big tote. For real. If, like me, you are a beginner, you might have to give your tote a square bottom, but is that really so bad when you could save yourself a cool eighty smackers?

Done Working? Fold the Workaday World Away

(This is just a note to say that I’ll probably be keeping posts short this week because of the site outages. We apologize for those, and we want you to know that it’s just a server issue that should be resolved soon. Manolo for the Home isn’t going anywhere!)

I have this obsession with small-space decorating because even though I now have an entire house worth of rooms to play with, I once subletted in tiny New York City apartments in which only one room was mine to decorate. One solution to the problem of where to put all that stuff we acquire as we move through life is to fold it into a wall.

Folding desk

Ikea sells a fairly useful wall-mounted desk space that could work as a home office if your particular business doesn’t require you to store a great deal of paper. At the end of the work day, your workspace — laptop and all — folds right into the wall, giving you more space for things like doing yoga, throwing parties, and putting together all of the other flat pack furniture you bought during your Ikea adventure.

Photo by Futuregirl_LeahRiley

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