Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Kookies!

Monday, December 14th, 2015

We went to a holiday party where an awesome person set up a cookie-decorating operation. I was new to this particular method, so I went with minimalism. Not bad for a first time out, huh?

I kept wishing I’d had tweezers—in which case, some very real cookie-decorating shit would have gone down.

Kookies!

Kookies!

(Don’t think too hard about what the red thing is.)

Next year: cookie-decorating party at my house! With just me! And a zillion freaking colors! And stencils! And glitter! And piping! AND TWEEZERS!

Okay, maybe you can come, too. Let’s find an occasion that truly inspires us and hasn’t been done to death. Arbor Day?

Paint Job!

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Our house used to be gray and black. Now it’s blue and blue. Happiness!

I apologize to everyone (especially John) who had to endure The Great Color Search, which began in June and didn’t end until September. I purchased over 50 samples, and John and I (mostly John) put up at least 30 of them. Probably more like 40, in the end. So that was rough.

Anyway, that’s all behind us now, and our house is looking so very lovely. Here are the befores:

Gray and Black

Gray and Black

Front View

Front View (with Husband)

And here are the afters:

Bluey!

Bluey!

 

Frontal Blue

Frontal Blue

Rive Gauche

Rive Gauche

You’ll notice that we replaced the garage door, which we love for practical reasons as well as aesthetic (i.e., we can finally pull the car all the way up to the door, where it’s out of the way of the sidewalk, rather than having to leave room for the old-style door to swing out). We (John, heh) also just put up those lovely new house numbers, all craftsman-styley.

I’m pretty darned pleased with how it came out. Yay, paint! Yay, Platypus Painting! Thanks to owner Colin for being a good guy, and thanks especially to Hector, Adrian, and Elvin, the workers. Those guys were sweet and fun to have around.

Painting, Painting, Painting

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

At long last, I had time (and a long enough break between guests) to work on re-painting the guest room. And you know what that means . . . COLOR AGONY! Also color ecstasy, ideally.

Before we moved in, I’d had the guest room painted lavender, mainly for lack of inspiration. It doesn’t get a lot of sun (except in the mornings), and it’s not terribly large; I was looking for something light, soft, and potentially soothing, I guess? But the lavender was pure drudgery—not merely dull but depressing, especially at night.

This time, I decided to go the opposite route and use a bright color. Yellow seemed possible, but our foyer is the most luscious shade of yellow, and I didn’t want to repeat that. (It’d also be too bright for sleeping, I think.) We had nearly a gallon left of Wales Green, the color we used for John’s office, so I slapped some of that up on the wall to see how it looked.

And . . . awful! Sickly green! Putrid, even! It never ceases to amaze me how colors change in the light—particularly in this case, when John’s office and the guest room are side-by-side. Ah, well. It was back to the drawing board.

Here are the 12 colors I chose from:

Greening It Up

Greening It Up

Most of them were either too bright or too olive-y; the one at the top right is both too dark and too blue. I ended up going with the one at the bottom left, which is a mix I made from two of the others (second one down on the left and third one down in the middle) and which seemed to have both the brightness and the muteness I sought.

And . . . sort of. It’s actually quite bright in there now, perhaps a little too much so. But it’s pretty. And it’ll be even prettier when we get the crown moldings in, which . . . June? July?

It’s already too late in the day to take a good photo of the room, but I’ll try to do it in the next few days so that you’re not gnawing with frustration.

 

Decor Updates

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Design fiends, they’re here at last! Photos of recent home decor improvements, including the finished dining room. Let’s begin there:

Le Dining Room

Le Dining Room

Ta-da! I’d love to add some kind of treatment to the floor—e.g., a colored rug under the table, for contrast. Green-apple  green? Raspberry? Plum? But rugs under dining tables make it nearly impossible to pull out chairs with any comfort, so I’d rather do something to the floor. Like paint it. But it’s hardwood. And old. And pretty. Maybe there’s some kind of vinyl solution? Thoughts?

Closer

Closer

Here’s a closer view. On the day I took this shot, the flowers weren’t ideal. Usually I go with bright orange or yellow, and usually it’s a fuller arrangement.

And now for a look at the dresser I rehabbed! Alas, I neglected to photograph it before I redid it, so exhausted was I by the prospect. Imagine a fifty-year-old piece belonging to a French provincial bedroom set, deeply yellowed with age, having sat in the very same bedroom for all of those years, tired and sad. And now look at it!

Dresser Redo

Dresser Redo

I apologize for the morose gray carpet, which we have plans to replace, as well as all of the unsightly cords. Criminal, I know. Just try to focus on the piece, and imagine the labor involved in doing that detail work. It took a long time, peeps. But I loved it.

That’s where we are with décor these days. Plenty of other plans in the works, in due time.

Freedom/Imagine

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I know I’m always writing about Jonathan Franzen, and I know I’ve already clocked in with a report on Freedom, but, well, so. I have to say things.

I reread Freedom. It’s still there, people. The words are still there, in the same order, in the same sentences, for 600 pretty consistently mind-blowing pages. How does he make those sentences—those beautiful, glorious, iron-rich sentences, page after page after page? There are killers everywhere, slayers of penetrating genius tossed off in the middle of a paragraph, where most writers bury their duds. THERE IS NO FILLER IN THIS NOVEL. IT MAKES ME ACTUALLY KIND OF INSANE.

In other news, I read Imagine, the new Jonah Lehrer book that you’ve been hearing about pretty much non-stop if you’re a consumer of the liberal elitist media, as naturally I am. And here are my questions:

Would there be a Jonah Lehrer without a Malcolm Gladwell? I guess people were translating capital-S Science for the commoner long before Gladwell, but Lehrer’s writing feels very Gladwellian to me, not least because there’s a leeetle edge of smugness that creeps its way in.

And why are writers in this vein (at least, Gladwell and Lehrer and seemingly a few others) so unequivocally pro-business? Sure, business is interesting and important and vital to the economy (and I owe my livelihood to it, so no knocks there, believe me). But there’s a lot of very unsavory shit going down in the world of commerce these days, and isn’t this type of writer supposed to be questioning that?

Case in point: Lehrer goes on and on about innovation and how to create the conditions that inspire it without ever mentioning that some innovations are Very Bad for Humanity. I’m not trying to ruin your day when I mention that, given current levels of consumption, humanity is on a course of self-destruction. But the innovations Lehrer focuses on are almost uniquely material products (including the Swiffer! a prime example of the disposable culture that’s killing our planet!) and pretty much never solutions for dealing with the scary mess we’re in.

So . . . innovation in the service of what, Mr. Lehrer? is my question.

That said, there’s a lot to like in the book. Gobble gobble.

Dining Room Spruce-Up

Friday, April 27th, 2012

As you may know, we moved into our new home a few months ago. And while it’s lovely in terms of space, light, and layout, the décor necessities have not been shy about making themselves apparent.

I’m slowly working to change the wall colors in most of the rooms (with gobs of help from our friend Julian, who paints beautifully), and I have furniture goals for every room as well. Those are less readily met, since, you know. Money.

While I wait to accrue the shekels required to replace the worn, gray master bedroom carpet (ew) with super-natural ivory berber straight off the sheep and salivate over the possibility of sleek orange and teal living room couches (think Mad Men reception area), I’m making smaller and far less expensive upgrades. Including redoing the dining room chairs.

Recently I scored an incredible table at the Crate & Barrel seconds lot: 60% off this gorgeous thing:

Not Our Actual Dining Room

Not Our Actual Dining Room

Here are a few other views:

Rustic Modern

Rustic Modern

Rough/Sleek

Rough/Sleek

Our dining room is the second-largest room in our house (after the master bedroom, yay!), and I had a vision of a giant slab of a table. That’s exactly what I got:

4 x 9

4 x 9

It’s a glorious, giant slab.

Okay, so. Very big win there. But what to do about the chairs? The bench shown in the first photo wasn’t available, and even if it had been: too matchy-matchy. I knew I’d want to keep our glorious parsons chairs, in which we were married:

Parsons Chairs

Parsons Chairs

Love the contrast of formal/traditional chairs with rustic/modern table.

But what to do with our remaining 4 chairs? Which looked like this?

Blah de Blah

Blah de Blah

Blah, right? Not much life there.

But plenty to work with, I thought. For instance, I like the curvy, delicate lines. I think they’re yet another way to show contrast against the hulking table. So I figured I’d do some painting and reupholstering and see what I could come up with. The results:

Two like this:

Yellow Sunshine

Yellow Sunshine

And two like this:

White Floral

White Floral

Funky times, right?

Right.

How does it all look together? I CANNOT SHOW YOU. Why not? We still haven’t painted the upper walls/ceiling periwinkle, which is the next order of business. Although if I manage to get to the farmer’s market tomorrow to snag some flowers, maybe I’ll take a photo anyway. Yellow tulips are probably out of season by now, but they’ve been looking fantastic in a rectangular slab of a vase.

Stay with me! Décor happiness ahead!

Photo Wall Complete

Monday, June 20th, 2011

You remember the cartoon photo wall.

We left it up for a couple of weeks. And on Saturday, with three hours of characteristic patience and very impressive geometrical calculations on John’s part, we replaced it with the photos.

Here’s the new look:

Photo Wall

Photo Wall

Sorry about the glare.

Here’s another angle:

On Your Way into the Dining Room

On Your Way into the Dining Room

And another:

On Your Way Out

On Your Way Out

Pretty pleasing, no? Even better in person, naturally. And I think it’d be even better on a colored wall. I’m not a fan of mustard, but the room came with mustardy silk curtains, and I can see a rich, orangey mustard working behind these frames. Or a deep saffron. That won’t be happening in this house, but maybe in the next one.

For easy comparison, here are both versions:

Cartoon Wall

Cartoon Wall

Photo Wall

Photo Wall

All in all, a successful design project. Thanks, Johnny!

Cartoon Wall

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Here’s how I feel about photo walls: I love ‘em.

First, they’re so much fun to see in other people’s homes. Photos are a great entry point for conversation, and I love seeing younger versions of people I know (especially if they involve giant 80′s hair). Second, I love a good photo wall in my own home. It’s warm and snuzzy all over the place. I get all “aw” just thinking about it.

I’ve been working on assembling a photo wall for our dining room for a while now. I’ve run into some obstacles—principally, that we have only a few great photos of family/friends and many, many photos of me and John. This despite having scanned a number of family photos from our mutual homes. So . . . what to do?

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that we can start with a Narcissism Wall and introduce more photos of others over time. And besides, it’s not that we don’t have any photos of others: It’s just that our wedding photographers went a little cuckoo with the bride-and-groom focus.

At any rate,  the photos are now in the frames, and it’s time to get them on the wall. Before we do, I remembered a strategy that worked really well when we were hanging art in our living room last year: Make paper cut-outs of the frames and place those on the wall first. That way, you don’t have to drill a bunch of extra holes if you don’t get the arrangement right the first time.

But with this wall, there are a lot of frames. And I wanted to know how X photo would look next to Y, etc. So I decided not merely to make the paper cut-outs but to sketch a quick cartoon of the content of each frame. Despite having made no effort whatsoever to cartoon well, the result was unexpectedly delightful. (If you’ll permit me.) (And I think you will.) (Because you’re nice like that.)

Check it out:

Cartoon Wall

Cartoon Wall

And a little closer:

Zooming In

Zooming In

And closer still:

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Center

Center

Right Side

Right Side

Close-Up

Close-Up

Familia

Familia

Wedding

Wedding

Montage

Montage

John and Dave in the Himalaya

John and Dave in the Himalaya

Fun times, huh?

Beautiful Web Design

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Yesterday I was reorganizing my Firefox bookmarks (I know). What I liked best, other than the satisfaction of restoring order to (relative) chaos, was clicking my way through a folder called Design. It is, predictably enough, where I toss the urls of sites whose design I admire—and will perhaps some day emulate.

Want to see some? Here:

Cheree Berry

Zeptonn Lab

Things

Justine Ashbee

David Hughes

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Nabaztag

Mr. Toast

Alice Supply

Yeah, I’m into color. And cuteness. And cartoons.

ETA: I can’t believe I left out this one.