Making Me Want to Get Extra Clean

There is a rule in my house that says we cannot buy any soap, no matter how cute and amazing. It’s circumstance, not anything against soap. For whatever reason, at Christmases and birthdays, The Beard and I have been the recipients of an inordinate number of soaps. Black soaps from Spain that my uncle maintained were good for pregnant women. Bear shaped soaps meant for the baby. Olive oil soaps from Greece, eco-friendly soaps with hollowed out centers to decrease waste, and even one clear soap in a bag with a toy goldfish in the middle. And then, you guessed it, I gave soapmaking a try.

And normally, this soap moratorium doesn’t weigh heavily on my mind. In fact, I can honestly say I hadn’t thought of it at all until, that is, I came across Soapylove. Soapylove, created by Debbie Chialtas, began as a hobby and evolved into a line of soaps, a shop and an Etsy shop, a magazine for soapmakers, and a book! But as cool as the Soapylove story is, the Soapylove soaps are even cooler!

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A Room They’ll Remember

How awesome is this room from lakbdesign?

Love their design philosophy:

every child needs a special place at home, a place where they can learn to be alone, can have “away” space from the rest of the family, but children also need comfortable gathering spaces, where they can play board games or video games with friends, or where siblings come together to create a lego village. lakbdesign children’s spaces.

It’s the little details that really make this room for me – the elephant wallpaper… the disco ball in the corner… the zither (which is both pretty and fun).

When I was growing up, money was extra tight and my immediate family had no real eye for design, so my room was what I could make of it, which wasn’t much. Sure, there are those amazing seven year olds who manage to out-decorate the pros, but I was not one of them. That’s part of why I’ve been spending lots of time on my daughter’s room – I want her to have fond, happy memories of her childhood space.

So do like me and DIY it:

elephant wall decal

Modern Kitchens: Too Stark or Just Right?

Not one, but two blogs I love (Kitchenisms and emmas designblogg) featured this very modern kitchen that calls the Swedish town of Eskilstuna home. How would I describe this space? It’s a bit industrial and very clean, but also a tad countryish, if only because it reminds me somewhat of the kind of working kitchens you find in farm houses. But those bright green chairs certainly cut through the sanitized look, which is a good thing.

Speaking of sanitization, however, is anyone else a little meh when it comes to the floor to ceiling white tiles? I’m sure the warm wood floors help keep the abattoir feeling to a minimum, yet I can’t shake the idea that I’d start seeing myself inside a slaughterhouse (or maybe just a train station restroom) the longer I spent in the confines of this kitchen.

But back to those green chairs! I’d love to recreate that look in my own kitchen, maybe with these lime green chairs from Umbra:

lime green chair

Living Room Storage Plus Toys: Is Chic and Uncluttered Possible?

The wonderful and lovely Tiffany wrote with this query:

Um, Miss NTB? Do you take requests? If so, may I request a home entry on incorporating kids toy storage into your living room? I mean like, serious storage. Not just one or two cute baskets for decor. We have the world’s smallest living room, which is now also the world’s worst decorated (thanks, kid-proofing). I have been TRYING to come up with something somewhat stylish and utilitarian, but I end up with dumpy and cluttered. I WOULD LOVE YOU FOR A BAZILLION YEARS.

A bazillion years? I like the sound of that. Of course, before I could effectively answer Tiffany’s question I needed to know just how small the world’s smallest living room actually is. The answer? About 14′x12′, which I think is about the size of my own, so I can definitely sympathize with the very real fact that a tiny space plus childproofing plus toys can equal a major bummer of a room. The good news is that you don’t need to be all LOOKIT MAH TOYBOX!

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Serious Upcycling

As tables go, I find this one an enigma. Is it modern? The lines are so clean and sharp. And the table top that seems modeled after a beautiful hardwood floor feels like an art piece.

But there’s something rustic about it, too. Something I can’t quite place my finger on.

Except I can because I have the Internet! Von Tundra‘s beautiful Rockwell table is unique in that it’s crafted from reclaimed and refurbished pallet wood (as are many of this Portland-based design house’s creations). Isn’t that cool? Recycling is awesome, especially when the end product turns out looking this good.

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Buy It With Moi In Mind

How cute is this white crested treeswift birdhouse from Anthropologie? Furthermore, it’s weatherproof and it’s cast from the Balinese baskets that hold betel nuts, which are offered to visitors as a sign of hospitality. And even better, it’s on sale for only $19.95! Alas, with renovations finally underway, I cannot simply buy any birdhouse that strikes my fancy, but if you happen to be in the market for a birdhouse for a special little bird, why not snap this one up in my stead?

No Love For This Combo

Nine times out of ten – make that nine-and-three-quarters times out of ten – Palmer Weiss hits a total home run with me. For real, I will tell anyone who listen that I just love how Palmer Weiss puts together a room. So hugs and kisses, Palmer Weiss. I adore you, but this, not so much:

Maybe it’s just me, but the prints and color combination in this old Victorian house family room just scream old lady to me. Or if they don’t scream old lady now, they will in five years. Of course, what do I know? Maybe an old lady lives there!

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What Does It Mean…

…when you want to pack up and move to a store? In this case, yours truly wants to go live at Alice Lane Home for a spell. I think owner and designer Jessica Bennett and I must be operating on similar wavelengths because I adore almost everything I’ve seen of this Utah shop and design hotspot.

Pretty, yes? But I’m guessing my desire to buy a plane ticket to the “Industry” state to go live in a shop might also have a little something to do with the fact that it’s muggy as a bog here. The atmosphere provided by a cranky hot baby doesn’t help much, either.

Please, take my mind off things and tell me: What store do you dream of occupying?

A Whole Lot of Light

Who else thinks one could easily whip up something very much like Rody Graumans’ 85 Lamps using only things purchased at Home Depot? Because I think as DIY projects for the home and lighting specifically are concerned, this is one of the easiest I’ve seen. Too bad Graumans thought of it first, which is why he gets to charge $3,700 for the thing.

Droog describes 85 Lamps thusly: “This lamp uses only what is necessary to create light: bulbs, wires, connectors. By multiplying these essential elements an opulent chandelier is created. Less and more are united in a single product.”

And here are my thoughts:

Pros: 85 light bulbs equal a whole lot of light!

Cons: 85 light bulbs will generate a whole lot of heat!

Other: So many wires! Say hello to my friend the knot!

Even More Animal Magnetism

Who else wants a Hare mat? Because I can’t be the only one! The Hare mat, designed by Ed Annink for Droog, makes use of the fact that Gerd Arntz‘s amazing statistic pictograms are free of copyright and re-purposes the image of the hare and of the hippo.

Oddly, those two animals have appeared together before here at Manolo for the Home, which makes me wonder what their relationship really is.