The Goldilocks Pendant Lamp

I’ve been thinking lately that I’m out of step with the rest of society. For example, in the matter of home lighting I find that when I look through the various online lighting catalogs I’m rarely satisfied by what I find.

For example, in the matter of hanging pendant lamps everything is either too modern…

Wofi Sevilla Pendant Light in Black

Too plain…

artemide float suspension lamp

or too ornate…

Arrow Crystal and Chrome Pendant Lamp

I’m like Goldilocks. I want something that’s just right, which I would define as semi-traditional but not boring, a little filigree and folderol but not weighed down with ornamentation. In other words, I won’t really know what I want in the way of lighting until I see it.

Until this, this fairly traditional lamp, the Milord from Korlarz.

Kolarz Milord Pendant Lamp

It’s very attractive, and I’d happily hang it in my house, but it’s not exactly perfect. A little too much gilding, a little too little…what? Verve, maybe.

Space Saver Staircases

My sister, who lives in Chicago in a late 19th century architectural gem has a loft that needs a new staircase, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ladders, and spiral staircases and other moderately affordable, space saving solutions to her problem.

A spiral stair case would be a dramatic and attractive solution. I, mean, look at this:

Sprial staircase

It’s attractive in a modern way, it doesn’t take up much of the precious floor space, and it looks like great fun. The problem, however, is that spiral staircases are really only for the young and healthy. If you’re a stout person, or elderly, or someone with a bum knee, then a spiral staircase is not the ideal mode of transportation between floors. The treads are too narrow and the turns are too tight for many of us to negotiate in comfort.

The better solution, for her however, is a space-saving staircase (especially if grandma comes to visit). The treads are not quite as narrow, and for a loft like my sister has with a shorter distance to top than a full second floor, there’s no need to put in turns to save space.

The traffic to her loft is comparatively light, they use it mostly for storage, so I would say a relatively inexpensive modular staircase might get the job done.

Today I Worship the Hammer

Eastwing 24oz Rip Hammer with Leather Grip

“Today I worship the hammer,” so ends American poet Carl Sandberg’s short poem “The Hammer“, which isn’t really about hammers so much as humankind’s dualistic nature as builder and destroyer. But, whatever, it’s a good opening line for a short meditation on high-quality hammers and their utility.

What you see above is my favorite hammer, a 24 ounce, Eastwing Leather-Handle Rip Hammer in a straight English pattern. I love it. It feels magnificent in my hand, a beautifully balanced, precision tooled piece of cold steel, made warm to the touch by a piece of cow hide leather.

A well-built, one-piece steel hammer is a pleasure to use. The force of the blow transfers exactly to where you apply it, a mis-strike won’t snap the head off, and the good balance means it’s easy to wield.

Hammers are the King of All Tools, the direct, straight-line descendent of that first rock our distant ancestor, homo habilis, picked up and banged on a coconut, or the bone of a mammoth, or the head of his neighbor. All we’ve done to the hammer since then is improve on the basic concept; added a handle, made it from hardened metal, and attached something that lets us put out the nail we’ve just bent with a clumsy blow.

The hammer: it builds, it destroys. Tools don’t get any better than that.

The Glamour of Outdoor Lighting

You probably didn’t think it was possible for outdoor lighting to be glamorous, but then you probably haven’t seen anything as photogenic as these two pictures from the online catalog of Castlegate Lights:

Konstsmide Fenix Outdoor Wall Lantern

Konstsmide Fenix Outdoor Wall Lantern

Both of these are from a Swedish company called Konstsmide. The top one is the Konstsmide Fenix Solid Copper Upwards Wall Lantern and the bottom one is the Konstsmide Fenix Solid Copper Downwards Wall Lantern.

These aren’t just handsome wall lanterns, the way they’re portrayed in the photos above makes them handsome wall lanterns that promise to transform our surroundings into something special. The autumnal leaves, the ancient wall, the way the shadow in the top photo indicates late afternoon, all of these things combine to make these the most romantic wall lanterns ever.

My friend, the writer Virginia Postrel, has a new book coming out this fall The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion, and as the title suggests part of the power of glamour is that it makes us desirous; the glamorous object, or the glamorous photo incites a sense of longing. Undeniably, there’s a longing to be where these wall lanterns are, which is a pretty great trick when you consider that by strict definition these are just pieces of hardware, but what glamourous pieces of hardware they are!

Inspiration: Entering a More Colorful World

When it’s time to paint and choose colors, who thinks of interior doors? Not many people, that’s who. Up until my new bedroom project, the last time I even considered painting a door was when I painted my bedroom door black in high school to make a point about how deep and complex I was. I’m not saying you should run out and paint all your interior doors black – unless you really want to – but rather that your interior doors (and the insides of your exterior doors) don’t have to be whiiiiiite or creeeeaaaam or some color that falls in between white and cream and does not have any personality at all.

Painted interior doors aren’t for everyone, of course – consider them as your would an oil painting – it’s just something to think about. If you’ve considered it and it isn’t for you, okay. But if you’ve never even imagined what your home might look like with more colorful doors, it’s time to start dreaming! Here are some visuals to get you started:

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The Effects of Color on a Room

When decorating a house for the first time, the most common worry people have is whether or not their chosen colours will work together. Colour can affect the perceived shape and size of a room, and also the mood of those in it. Light colours make a room seem large and airy, whereas darker shades create a warm, intimate atmosphere. Whether you are painting, wallpapering or tiling a wall, below is a brief guide to how different colours work within the home.

Neutrals (black, white, grey and brown)

Neutral colours act as a base point for most decorators. Many people use all-neutral schemes, accentuated with flashes of colour to keep the room interesting. Black should be used sparingly to accent as it is too overpowering for full walls.

Red

Red is commonly used to stir up excitement in a room. It is thought to stimulate conversation and draw people together, with the living room thought to be the best place for a covering of red. It is too stimulating for the bedroom however, as red is seen to raise heart rate and speed-up respiration, neither of which are conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Blue

Whereas red raises blood pressure and speeds up respiration and heart rates, blue has the opposite effect. Its calming and relaxing qualities make it a perfect choice for bedrooms, although too much pastel blue can be too cold and unwelcoming. This can be combatted by pairing lighter shades with warmer-hued furnishings. Avoidance of darker blues is recommended, as they can make a space seem close and claustrophobic.

Purple

Often associated with sophistication and luxury in its darker hues, purple is greatly underused in many homes. Lighter shades such as lavender and lilac create a similar calming feel to blue, but without the cold connotations.

Green

Of all the colours available, green is believed to be the most restful. Unsurprisingly, it combines blues refreshing nature with the vibrancy of yellow, and is great for living rooms as it encourages both warmth and calm in equal measures.

Yellow

Due to its connotations with sunshine and summer, yellow is used in the home to lift rooms and promote happiness and cheeriness throughout. However, studies have shown it should not be the primary colour of the space. Babies are believed to cry more in predominantly yellow rooms, whilst feeling of frustration and anger can be stirred up in older people too by its overuse.

Orange

For similar reasons to yellow, orange is seen as an enthusiastic and energetic colour. It is probably too lively for use in relaxing zones, but exercise rooms or gyms could be boosted by the extra burst of energy

Do Carpets and Food Mix in Your Home?

Here’s an interesting fact about my home: While I love little rugs and carpets, I have exactly zero in my own house. It’s wood flooring all the way, with wood-look laminate in the kitchen because that is what we could afford at the time. Carpets are cute but with smooth wood or woodesque floors, I can sweep and swiff without having to drag a bulky vacuum up from the basement. We did have a number of throw rugs once upon a time, but with five cats and a mobile toddler, I was vac’ing every day. Not cool.

And exactly how long will that stay looking nice?

You can imagine, then, how squicked out carpets in kitchens and carpets in dining rooms make me. Built-ins are one thing, because there’s not much you can do about that until you’re ready to refloor, but to take a kitchen or dining room with a perfectly good wood floor and then put a throw rug precisely where food is doomed to fall… that just makes me scratch my head. You tell me: Is there some benefit to carpets in dining rooms and carpets in kitchens that I am missing? Saving food for later perhaps? Because I simply cannot wrap my brain around the practical reason for putting a what is essentially a crumb catcher under food prep and food consumption zones.

Inspiration: Buffets and Sideboards of the Modern Variety

Ever wondered what the difference between a sideboard and a buffet is? Me, too. The thing is, we needn’t have bothered ourselves about it. A sideboard and a buffet are basically the same piece of furniture serving the same purpose. Some people consider the buffet to be simply a smaller version of the sideboard, but in terms of functionality? No difference.

Others assign a name to this particular piece of furniture based on the room in which it resides – in the dining room, it’s a buffet, while in the living room, it’s a sideboard.

Sideboards and buffets have both traditionally been used as a place to store dishware and silverware (and sometimes linens) while food was displayed and then served on top. But today, a sideboard or buffet might be used for almost anything. And even back in the day, my grandparents’ beautiful buffet held not only linens and napkin rings, but also records.

Whatever you call them, sideboards are buffets can be very useful pieces of furniture, especially if you are the sort of person who has a vast collection of cloth napkins and pretty tablecloths and themed table runners for every season and holiday. Why? I’ve found that unless you have a great big linen closet, those sorts of things end up sadly tossed in a basket in pantry or tucked into a kitchen drawer without much thought to how wrinkled they’ll become.

But whatever you keep in your sideboard or buffet, here are some pictures of modern furniture buffets and sideboards that would look great in just about any room of the house. Enjoy!

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Eddie Rickenbackers Tiffany Lamp Auction

Wisteria Tiffany Lamp from Eddie Rickenbackers

Wisteria Tiffany Lamp from Eddie Rickenbackers

I apparently missed a pretty good story from earlier this year, when some of the furnishings from one of my favorite San Francisco wateringholes, Eddie Rickenbackers, were auctioned off following the death of the owner. And we’re not talking about just any old bar furnishings, but six, original Tiffany lamps with an estimated value of nearly $2,000,000!

Norman Jay Hobday, the bar’s colorful and dedicated proprietor, died in February 2011 at age 77. He’d spent much of the last 20 years of his life carefully collecting the lamps, which were manufactured around 1910.

The largest and most prized lamp in the group – “Wisteria” – stands more than 2 feet tall and has been given a presale value of $500,000 to $700,000.

Hobday, who adopted the name Henry Africa after he opened a bar in San Francisco by that name, had a good eye for the lamps and culled a valued collection over the years that appeals to dedicated Tiffany collectors, said Sarah Shepard, an account manager with Christie’s auction house in San Francisco.

“The Tiffany lamps are coming with all this history of being behind the bar,” Shepard said. “It’s a really special story. You don’t often go inside a bar and restaurant and get to look at lamps like this.”

I’ll say!

When you went in Eddie Rickenbacker’s what you noticed weren’t the million dollar lamps sitting behind the bar, but the vintage motorcycles which hung from the ceiling in the dining room. That collection of mobile art is expected to fetch more than a million dollars at a separate auction later in the year.

NtB Loves: Beeswax Candles

I used to be a huge candle fan, meaning I was one of the people who actually burn the candles instead of just letting them get all dusty, until the day I found out that cheap candles from the Chinese dollar store in nowheresville Brooklyn frequently have lead in the wicks. That gave me pause, but didn’t prompt me to toss out my tea lights.(Although I did find that I like personalized candles from Best Kept Secrets.) No, the last straw was a candle that threw off so much soot as it burned that it somehow stained a bunch of nearly invisible leftover grout that wasn’t cleaned properly off my bathroom tiles. You couldn’t actually see it until the soot started flying… when I tried to clean up, it stained the grout, which is why I have these odd stains on my bathroom tiles. Stupid candle!

beeswax candles

Nowadays I don’t burn quite so many candles, what with the baby and the cats and the extreme dislike of soot, but I do keep some around, just in case. The ones I do keep around are pure beeswax with organic cotton wicks, with no scents or fillers. I’m partial to the Timberline brand, but there are plenty of great candlemakers out there working with pure beeswax instead of petroleum-based products. If I had the time, I might even try rolling my own with a kit or maybe reading up on the topic (which is a lot less appealing than just jumping in with the kit, really).

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