Shaker furniture's simplicity and close relationship to Danish Modern style makes it a good fit for clean-lined interiors. According to the Shaker religion, hard work and simplicity were paths to happiness. We think the philosophy behind the furniture isn't so far from what we're trying to do with homes...make them calm, healthy, beautiful places to live.
Last week I finally finished decorating my living room. I had a photo shoot/interview with a design magazine and a camera crew coming from HGTV so I had to get my living room looking hot! I wanted to create enough seating for guests but I also didn't want the space to feel busy and full of furniture. So my solution was to purchase four chairs, which I was lucky to have found two sets of cane chairs that looked almost the same. I also used a bar cart instead of shelving unit to open the space up but still create some storage against the back wall. This turned out to be a great solution for my space and could be for someone who has a small living room or an awkward size room. With just four chairs, a circular coffee table and a rug you can center almost any room. Or perhaps four upholstered chairs like these from Plummers if you have enough room. Following is a list of where I found most of my items for my living room.
Last Friday, we started a game of Guess the Decade, featuring this blue kitchen: metal cabinets, tulip table, copper lighting fixture...lots of clues to the era.... ...but all red herrings. This kitchen is a labor of love and dedication from Pam of Retro Renovation. We wrote to Pam last week asking if we could feature her kitchen and we were so happy when she agreed - the room is such a great, impeccable modern redo of vintage style; we thought it was perfect for 'Guess the Decade'. 196 of you voted NOW making it the lead decade by far in our survey - the eagle eyes definitely won! It was followed by the 60's with 87 votes - which covers the year the cabinets were installed in their original location. The 50's got a fair number of votes, 47, which is not surprising, due to the color, which is very fifties-style. It was followed by the 70's and 90's, which received 41 and 39 votes respectively.
We see this from time to time, especially on eBay or Craigslist: a classic piece that's been customized by the owner. We've seen painted bases, wallpapered table tops, even twee floral patterns painted on with markers. Usually, we shy away from these custom jobs...but our general philosophy is that if it makes you happy, why not? The photos above compare the traditional Saarinen tulip table with a white base and the custom job of a red lacquered base.
At a recent outdoor wedding in Michigan, we noticed the simplicity and beauty of a garden with white accents. Against a colorful backdrop, white looks bright and clean, and it effortlessly translates from flowers to garden lights to outdoor furniture. Click below for a few examples.... White lanterns hung from a garden shed. A string of white lanterns compliments the white trim on this shed. A white lantern creates contrast against a green backdrop. All photos were taken at the Willow Glen Pond Bed & Breakfast in Sturgis, Michigan.
In the last several years, urban farms have sprung up all over the country, offering consumers a fresh and local alternative to large scale industrial food production methods. Found in the most unlikeliest of places-empty lots, old asphalt playing fields, rooftops- many of the country's urban farms stand upon the principle that healthy, affordable food should be a basic human right. Despite the increased media attention and growing popularity, most urban farms haven't yet found a way to thrive in the market economy. The problem is that most city farms still rely heavily on volunteer labor and grant funding. According to a recent piece in the Earth Island Journal, this is a definite problem because these farms 'Are unlikely to fulfill their aspirations and make a meaningful dent in the problem of food insecurity if they are forever running on the treadmill of foundation funding.' One farm that has successfully turned a profit while making local, organic produce available to its nearby residents is Greensgrow, an urban farm started in 1998 to serve a low-income neighborhood in north Philadelphia. It sells vegetables, herbs, honey, and seedlings produced on-site, along with produce, breads, meats, and cheeses from local producers, and also makes biodiesel from waste oil produced by the restaurants that buy its vegetables. Greensgrow co-founder Mary Seton Corboy says this diversification partly explains why her organization is financially self-sufficient, while many other urban farms are not. In 2009, Greensgrow had an earned income of $825,000 from CSAs, farm stand sales, restaurant sales, and nursery sales. For more on this, read the full article at Earth Island Journal.
We have chalkboard on our mind lately, evidenced by our recent post about colored chalkboard paint. We like the idea of these minimal effort wall stickers.... In part because they're mildly amusing. You'd certainly need an eclectic style to make one of these work or else it could just look downright bad. And while they require far less effort than painting a chalkboard zone, they aren't cheap: $36 for a 31.5' by 18.5' sticker.
When we got our second dog, Bananas, it was definitely an adjustment for the whole family. See, we decided to get doggy #2 because we thought that Herbie needed a buddy. Everyone and everything we read told us that dogs like packs. Even when we'd walk Herbie, we'd get asked by random strangers the same question that our parents were already asking, 'So...when are you going to get the second one?' Little did we know that Herbie, despite his husky-pack-heritage, was perfectly content being the sole dog in our household and any four-legged addition to our family would be met with distaste, distrust, and dismay. Herbie eats first, goes out the door first, gets walked first, etc. We usually walk Herbie alone first, and then Bananas. In the initial epic dog battles, we were worried that Bananas would get hurt. One of our friends told us to just let 'em battle it out as it lets the dogs know who's the boss. Don't expect the raising of the new dog to be anything like how it was with the older dog. Herbie's puppyhood was a breeze compared to Bananas.
Rugs are one of the main pillars of a room - they add pattern, texture and comfort. It's a little wider than it is long, which makes it easier to find rugs, which are mostly rectangular. The downside is that really large rugs can be spend-y so they aren't always an option for mere mortals. You can also create one large rug out of two smaller rugs laying side by side. If you have two identical rugs, you can almost get the feeling of one large rug. If you choose two different rugs, then any contrasting color and patterns add interest to the room. Place a plainer large rug below, then layer a smaller patterned rug directly on top. To see the rest of the room, check out the original makeover post and create your own unique room with a little help from our Design School.
Design blog Core77 has a ton of posts and video from Milan. In addition to a chat with Derek Chen of Council, there is a quick video of Dutch designer Tineke Beunder's Marbelous table. It's a wooden table that has been carved to double as a marble shoot chute.... Marble chutes are one of our favorite toys! Via: Core77.
The Nature Collection from Italian manufacturer Teorema incorporates the shapes of trees into their faucet forms. Levers and knobs form branches and even the wall-mounted designs resemble knots on trees. Tree Chic! Via: Trendir.... If trees aren't your thing, maybe you'll like their Duck inspired faucets, also in the Nature Collection. The website is mostly in Italian, so we're unsure of U.S. distributors.
The Barcode Piano invites children to explore the concept of barcodes through a tangible interface consisting of a board, bricks, a button and sounds inspired by the piano as a metaphor. By combining the different barcode bricks, children can copy barcodes and listen to their unique tunes. Each brick will play a unique tone creating new tunes every time a complete barcode is put into place on the Barcode Piano.
For a blog that celebrates small space living, we really don't feature enough dorm rooms, do we? If you think about it, dorms are probably the most difficult homes to decorate: Shoestring budget, generic furniture, lots of rules, little storage, linoleum floors...oh, and there's at least two people sharing the space. Taking all that into consideration, we're impressed by Oslamb's Dorm Sweet Dorm entry over at HGTV's Rate My Space. She and her roommate really made an effort to make their dorm room a home. Oslamb roomed with her best friend from high school which probably made a big difference when it came to picking a color scheme and buying matching bedding and other accessories. Armed with their hot pink, black and white motif, they hit up Target for major purchases like the futon and the bookshelf centered between the two loft beds. Like most dorms, painting the walls was not an option, so they covered a large bulletin board with black and white fabric to give their space a more interesting backdrop than cement blocks. The girls put the books and cards on display and stowed cleaning supplies in the hot pink drawers. They routinely bought fresh flowers to freshen up their space, and the mirror was salvaged from the residence hall and repainted black to match the rest of the color scheme. A nice touch from home: Oslamb's mother made matching towel hangers for the girls. Check out the rest of this sweet dorm over at Rate My Space.
Sitting with your face buried in a computer screen can really make you lose track of time, especially if you're working in a window-less office. You can create your own 'Window' with your computer wallpaper and keep track of the passing of time in a clever way-no numerals required. Just using your computer's built-in rotating wallpaper setting, you can use your background to keep track of the passing hours, just like a bell tower. Each time the scene changes, you'll know another 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour has passed, depending on how you set it. If you want to get really creative, pick out 24 stellar wallpapers to represent each hour of the day. A quick Google search will return images of gorgeous day- and night-time scenes from around the world. If you're a budding photographer, you could even shoot the same scene at different hours of the day for a time-lapse-style wallpaper. It's the perfect background for your work to keep you on top of your time management.
For Kitchen and Bath month, we're starting up a new round of Guess the Decade. This bright, cheeful eat-in kitchen is your latest design detective assignment. Comments and conjecture are welcome in the comments, as always, but if you know the source of the photo - PLEASE don't tell. We promise to reveal it tomorrow, so please check back then for the answer.