Deocrating My Imaginary Restaurant

Il Milione Restaurant in Hong Kong

Sometime I like to imagine that I’m opening up a high-end restaurant or bar, which is odd, because my very brief brush with working in a restaurant, bussing tables, left me scarred for life. But then I see a picture like the one above, of the restaurant Il Milione in Hong Kong, and think that I’d like to own a restaurant.

I have to clarify that I don’t want to be a celebrity chef, I just want to be the owner, the guy who sits at the bar talking to customers and occasionally easting tasty things my chef sends out from the kitchen.

Here’s another picture from Il Milione (taken from the website of Hill Cross Furniture, the English firm that provided all of the furnishings.)

Il Milione Restaurant in Hong Kong

This is the real reason why I want to own a restaurant, because I want to hang out in semi-public spaces that look like this, and because I want people to admire my good taste.

Also, because building a restaurant is the ultimate exercise in remodeling, you find a space, imagine what it will look like, and then try to impose your vision on that space given your budget and the competency of your workmen and contractors. Picking out chairs and tables to put in my imaginary restaurant is my idea of fun.

Happily, I know my limits. Building the restaurant according to my vision, and sitting at the bar in it after it’s open, is about as far as I want to actually go in the food service industry.

The Mid-Century Moment

Looking through the catalog of an furniture company called FusionLiving, I came across this bookcase:

Libra Furniture Retro Bookcase

Look at those legs. Some of you might be too young to remember those legs, but for those of us who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s those tapering legs, part Danish Modern, part George Jetson, were on almost everything from television sets to dining room tables.

I can’t say I’m a fan of that look, but apparently many of you are, because all of the style blogs are talking about a return of mid-century modern.

Here’s another example from the same company, Libra Furniture, this time a geometric-style retro wing chair.

Libra Furniture Retro Wing Chair

I know, it’s supposed to make me think of Mad Men, but it doesn’t. It makes me think of the furniture that used to be in my parents’ living room and how I was glad when my mom finally threw out that giant console combination hi-fi stereo and television that used to dominate one side of the room.

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

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