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Manolo for the Home: House, Home and Lifestyle Advice - Part 123

One step up from the fireplace DVD?

Resin Tealight Fireplace Log

Does this strike anyone else as a touch odd? I like logs in the fireplace (not that I have one) and I wouldn’t kick a tea light off the table, but I’m not a fan of the combo package. Bellacor describes this product thusly:

The rustic charm of a flickering fire is recreated with this clever, handcrafted resin log sculpture. Set right in the fireplace for a no fuss alternative to lighting.

I’d actually feel safer with a proper fire set off from the room itself with a nice decorative grate. Eleven tea lights at floor level means eleven flames drawing the attention of curious pets, curious babies, and clumsy house guests. I suppose you could use flameless tea lights, but just how faux are you willing to go?

How many fake leopards had to die?

Someone tell me how I can fit this into my decor without it looking ridiculous

Wedding gowns and shoes get saddled with amusing, silly, and patently odd names. Why was Cary named Cary? And who’s Madalyn?

As it turns out, plenty of furniture comes complete with interesting and evocative monikers. Meet Cairo, the bench that apparently hails from the land of the pharaohs.

Sitting on subway maps and signs

Subwayphiles everywhere are salivatingA chair for the sign lover in your life

I have these two friends. One is a die hard New Yorker and a subwayphile. The other is loathe to pass up any opportunity to snap up an old street sign that happens to be lying around. If I had a few thousand bucks burning a hole in my pocket, you can bet I’d be placing an order for a few of these chairs. Designed by Boris Bally, they are crafted from aluminum and steel signs rendering each chair unique.

As Michael Monroe (wait, that Michael Monroe?) so aptly put it:

“An attraction to the bold graphics of discarded highway signage inspired Boris Bally to collect, recycle, and fabricate furniture of great wit and distinction. His chairs – with fragmented words, symbols and arrows splashed across their surfaces – seem to symbolize urban grit and rhythms.”

Indeed…of course, I love weird highlight pieces like this. You wouldn’t want to outfit your whole house with them–at least most people wouldn’t–but they’re awesome in a starring role. My main stand-out piece is a beautiful and striking Russian khokhloma side table that my grandparents brought back on some excursion some years ago. What’s yours?

Clutter is more than just an eyesore

Disorganized outside can mean disorganized inside

According to a recent NYT article, clutter is just as psychologically damaging as it is ugly. I tend to agree, but I’m a chronic organizer rather than a chronic clutterer. While I can accept that one man’s clutter is another man’s collection, I’m firmly of the mind that if something is neither useful nor beautiful, it ought to be chucked, repurposed, sold, or given away.

Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body — reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.

Makes sense to me. For those wondering how to begin, I recommend starting with some decorative trunks:

Set Of Two Woven Jute Trunks

In a pinch, you can stash your stuff in these babies without having to organize it, and you can come back to it later for organization purposes when you have more time.

Small spaces, big character

I wonder what it’s like on the inside…

Before I could even imagine buying a house, I was quick to profess my love of small houses. Cottages. Bungalows. Whatever you want to call them. After all, they’re cheaper to heat and cool, they’re cute, and they kind of force you to prioritize your junk. Then I actually bought a small house and realized just how much junk I really had!

Figuring out what to do with my small spaces was a challenge. I had more space overall, but the individual rooms in my new house were smaller than the corresponding rooms in my apartment. What that meant was that I had to prioritize when choosing my furnishings and decor, find creative and aesthetically pleasing ways of packing everything I wanted in, and make as many pieces as possible do double duty.

What do I mean by double duty? Take a plain kitchen window, for example. Demesne suggests you turn that window into:

  • A plant window with glass shelving for indoor plants or garden starts. A narrow bookcase with attractive baskets for holding garden books, planting tools, and a covered bucket for potting soil could turn this into a mini-plant care center.
  • The perfect cat zone by adding a somewhat wider shelf to the typical sill, then topping it with a home-made cushion (with a washable cover).
  • An entertainment bar with a drop leaf shelf mounted at bar height under the window for extra eating or serving space. When you need it, it’s there, but for convenience it can be left down. Camouflage it as part of a built-in if you’re ambitious.
  • A breakfast table. An eastern exposure combined with a small drop leaf table and a couple chairs is a natural solution. The leaves can be left down to facilitate flow through except when having that morning cappuccino.
  • A mud space. If it’s next to a door, a narrow bench with cubbies for outdoor shoes, boots, and a bin for hats and gloves provides a good spot to catch family clutter. Put a couple heavy duty hooks nearby for backpacks or purses. Voilá. If you can train your family to take their shoes off, you’ll cut down dramatically on the dirt that gets tracked in.

And so on and so forth. Little niches can become mini offices, prettied up storage nooks, or entertainment areas. Ask yourself: Where can I fit some additional seating? How can I display my stuff to its best advantage? How can I make my spaces feel bigger without sacrificing comfort? If you plan carefully–perhaps using some of the software readers recommended here–your small spaces will pop.

Now you tell me…what have you done lately to maximize the appeal of your small spaces?

Ever wonder why they call it the throne?

I always regarded the novelty plungers Adam Sandler sells in Punch Drunk Love as being fairly ridiculous…until, that is, I stumbled upon the surprisingly wide world of novelty toilet seat covers. You want barbed wire embedded in acrylic? No problem. How about faux marble? It’s out there. Yes, you’ll find everything from roaring tigers to Asian script to leopard print, not to mention fish.

This is by far the worst of the lot

But the fun doesn’t end with fishies, though I must say I do pity the poor things. Below the cut you’ll find several more, er, interesting toilet seats. Me? I like a plain white bathroom where appliances are concerned because I can see that everything is squeaky clean.
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Happy new year from NtB!

Wood Display Shelf

For many, the new year means new furniture, new appliances, and a new decor scheme. I know that I definitely get way more into the whole new year thing when I’ve made some outward changes in my existence, a la moving everything I own around and donating anything that hasn’t seen the light of day in, oh, six months. The keyword is organization, a.k.a. shelf shopping! I’m contemplating the one you see above, but only in a ::wouldn’t it be nice if I had $700:: sort of way.

I hope you have a most prosperous and beautiful new year!

The Kitchen Sink: Here is my handle…here is my spout

The nice thing about buying a house is that you own everything in that house. Conversely, the bad thing about buying a house is that you own everything in that house.

Right now, I own cheap kitchen counters that are made of some sort of porous material that absorbs stains as a matter of course and a stainless steel sink that is slowly falling into the kitchen cabinets underneath. For this, I can thank the previous homeowners and their half-assed approach to DIY home repair.

Speaking of that gravity-impaired stainless steel kitchen sink, I’m in the market for a shiny new one… and I can’t imagine buying the kitchen sink itself without buying a new faucet set to go with it. Curious to see what I’m considering? Read on for pics and what to me are incomprehensible contractors stats.

Model N142 04 PB: Polished Brass Single Handle Kitchen Faucet with Spiral Handle and Sprayer

The Polished Brass Single Handle Kitchen Faucet with Spiral Handle and Sprayer:
-3-Hole Installation -1/2″ IPS Inlets -11-7/16″ Spout Height -6-1/2″ Aerator Clearance -9-15/16″ Spout Reach -3″ Maximum Deck Thickness -Ceramic Disc Cartridge -Spiral handle with porcelain index button

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