Category Archives: interiors

Christmas Coke

 As long as we’re breaking out the Christmas decorations this week, I thought I’d share our almost-DIY holiday project.

 

It’s no secret that my boyfriend has a major Coca-Cola crush. So major that it actually inspired this summer’s Southern sojourn, which included a stop at Coke headquarters in Atlanta in addition to the mentioned Nashville and Asheville. Some kids have bedrooms painted with puffy clouds or zoo animals; the walls of Paul’s childhood room were covered in red and white Coca-Cola wallpaper (yes, there is such a thing).

 So when we came across a dusty collection of his family’s old National Geographic magazines, we had to check the back pages for cool retro Coke ads. And these three Santas from 1956, ’60 and ’62 just begged to be framed.

 

We carefully removed the ads from the magazines, but that’s where the DIY ended. Since we had a 60 percent off coupon for Michael’s – and since the framer at our store is pretty talented – we opted to have them professionally done. But we probably could have achieved a very similar look ourselves with some basic black frames and matting.

 I think the end result is more subtle and cozy than your generic store-bought snow globes, reindeer, or even Coca-Cola merch, but still manages to feel extremely Christmas-y.

 

Unfortunately, I had a heck of a time getting a photo with decent lighting. This time of year, we only get sun in the living room from 5 to 7 a.m – and the new light fixture that was supposed to arrive Nov. 1 has been backordered twice, finally convincing us to cancel our order this afternoon. It’s back to the drawing board on that one, I guess.

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Filed under christmas, Holidays, interiors, retro, vintage, winter

Color Collection

I think I have a problem.

I seem to be addicted to paint swatches. Which would be fine if I were a painter or interior decorator – but I’m most definitely not.

On the way to the grocery store or post office, I find myself swinging by Home Depot or the hardware store more and more often. Before I know it, I’m carrying out a fresh stack of color. I almost wish they charged a few cents per swatch – the fact that they’re free makes it too easy. I would totally splurge on the full-collection professional paint decks, except I’m afraid that viewing so many options at once would make my head explode. I mean, we only have 51/2 rooms and a hallway.

And you know what the worst part is? After collecting swatches of every color in the rainbow for, like, years, we’re finally going to paint the living room…beige.

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Filed under home improvement, interiors, old houses, paint, renovation

Getting a Handle on Hardware

It’s all coming back to me now.

After spending weeks poring over magazines and swatches and brochures for my parents’ kitchen remodel, I’m starting to recall just how many little details it takes to make a blueprint a reality. Sure, there are the paint colors and cabinet styles – that’s the easy part. But do you want your cabinet doors to have a regular overlay, full overlay or a flush inset? Do you want your countertops to have a mitered or non-mitered edge? Will cabinet hinges be hidden or visible? So many choices.

It’s enough to make even the most prepared planner’s head spin.

The latest do-or-die decision involves hardware. Home Depot and Lowe’s have a decent selection of contemporary handles and knobs, but they don’t fare so well with the traditional end of the spectrum.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to introduce Mom and Dad to specialty companies like Rejuvenation, White Chapel and Van Dyke’s Restorers. (Fun fact: I just learned that Van Dyke’s is owned by Cabela’s, the hardcore hunting/fishing/outdoors superstore – weird.)

Anywho, I knew what I wanted before I knew where to find it: shiny nickel-plated Shaker bin pulls for drawers and latches for cabinets. Van Dyke’s selection fit the bill perfectly.

I’d be happy to see my parents go with the same, but I’m also excited to see the outcome of something different.

Like glass hardware that mimics the classic crystal door knob, for instance.

Or traditional arts and crafts choices like square knobs and dangling drawer pulls.

Then there are the medieval-looking strap hinges that conjur up images of a cute Tudor Revival cottage. I can’t believe I couldn’t find a photo of a kitchen with these guys.

I like to imagine those cast iron hinges on white cabinets – I love the contrast of black hardware in a light kitchen.

Hardware is sort of the icing on the cake – it’s not going to make or break the room, but it really adds a finishing touch. But enough about what I like – what’s your favorite old house hardware style?

Images from Kitchens.com, Van Dyke’s Restorers, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, Rejuvenation and CrownPoint Cabinetry. Click on photos for more info.

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Filed under bungalow, interiors, kitchens, old houses, renovation, Victorian

Where’s the Wastebasket?

A letter to the editor in a recent American Bungalow posed an interesting question. In all those beautiful photos of featured arts and crafts-style homes, the reader pointed out, the magazine never once included a wastebasket. Where the heck do these people put their trash?

 It got me thinking – not just about trash, but what about remote controls? What about computer cords? What about the litterbox?! Do these immaculately decorated homes have handcrafted accessories to match? Or do the homeowners just grab the most convenient doodads from Target and then hide them from the camera?

 Since then, I’ve had my eye out for ways to prettify the typically un-pretty – like this wastebasket, for instance. Problem is, when you have to request a price quote for a trash can, you probably can’t afford it.

 

Meanwhile, we’ve managed to wrangle the remotes into a bowl, keep pens, sunglasses and other small items in another dish, and toss my boyfriend’s guitar tuners, cords, and mini-amps into a bread basket.

 

And then we got this guy.

 

No, it’s not some futuristic ottoman – it’s a  litterbox. A ModKat litterbox. (FYI, our walls aren’t really fluorescent yellow, that’s just my camera playing some weird tricks).

 

I never thought I could love a litter pan, but I guess I really am a crazy cat lady, because I’m over the moon for this one. It keeps the litter (and most aromas) contained, is a breeze to vacuum around, and resembles a piece of furniture more than a bathroom receptacle – a large, candy-colored plastic piece of furniture, mind you, but you get the point.

This one, on the other hand, might be going a bit too far.

 

 All jokes aside, you never see pet accessories in photos, either – probably because there aren’t many decent-looking options. Thank goodness for Bungalow Bob’s Pet Designs. Past kitty Christmas gifts (stop snickering!) have included the pet hammock – which as you can see, has since become a home for toys – and the cat maze.

 

I’m sure if we had a dog, we’d be all over the quarter-sawn oak den.

 I totally understand that the homes in publication pages are, much like human models, part illusion — they’re primped, touched up and ultimately transformed into something quite different than the way they looked when they woke up in the morning. But since I get most of my design inspiration from magazines, it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes things that are usually left out. Like, is there a built-in pet box or cubby hiding around the corner? Or maybe a cool trash can or remote control holder? How do the design-savvy mix form and function when it comes to typically un-fun home products?

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Filed under design, interiors, organization

Renovation Motivation

So I was feeling a tad sorry for myself last week, which may have led to even more infrequent posts than usual.

I was thinking that I’ve got all these big plans in my head, yet all I’ve accomplished recently is purchasing some kitchen canisters  and sink organizers.

Not that the updates weren’t absolutely necessary, of course. I mean, we’d been using the same soap jars since we moved in together. 

I’d like to think the end results are somewhat more sophisticated than the straw-hugging panda and his Softsoap tiger brother, who resided in the kitchen.

I might add a glass soap jar in the kitchen, too, but for now a cute Mrs. Meyers bottle in a white dish will do the trick.

 But a few days into my wallowing, I got some news that changed my outlook. After more than 10 years in their current house, my parents are finally remodeling their kitchen.

To appreciate the significance of this situation, you’ve got to understand something about my family. They have not completed a single renovation project in my 27 years of life. When we moved out of our first house, it was half green and half white because we’d started painting once and never finished. It’s been all downhill since.

Yet, they’ve hired the contractor, they’ve ordered the cabinets – they’ve even (perhaps a bit prematurely) torn out their inherited mustard and deep brown 1970s kitchen. It’s really happening. But the part that impressed me the most? The way my parents held their ground when their contractor suggested they rethink their dream of white Shaker cabinets and subway tiles and instead consider knotty pine and stainless steel, which he thought would have better resale value.

We went through almost the exact same thing when my boyfriend’s family, who was very kindly (and thankfully) helping us with the work, couldn’t understand why we didn’t want Corian counters and Tuscan-style cabinets from Home Depot. Then again, they also didn’t understand why we didn’t want a house built after 1990.

I get that we all have different tastes. I even appreciate it – it keeps things interesting. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have light birch cabinets and a recycled glass backsplash, or colored cabinets (like the cover photo on September’s This Old House) and a checkered floor.

But we wanted white cabinets, white subway tiles (apparently I really am my parents’ daughter) and a warm wood floor. We wanted to go from this…

To this! How-we-did-it post to follow sometime in the future. Please ignore the odd tiki display-turned-clutter above the sink.

Yes, in hindsight there are some things that I wish I had done differently…and there are many, many things that still need to be done. But my point is, we had a vision once, we stuck to it, and we made it a reality – and we can do it again. Any time I doubt that, all I have to do is look at our before and after photos. Two years later, I still smile every time I do.

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Filed under interiors, kitchens, organization, renovation

Over the Counter

Nobody would ever mistake me for a neat freak. But just because organization isn’t in my blood doesn’t mean I can’t change, right?

 That’s why I thought I’d use the inevitable burst of motivation that comes with the onset of autumn to tackle a few organization projects. Rather than overwhelm myself and end up doing nothing (a common occurrence around here), this time around I aim to focus on very small areas of the house, starting with the oft-cluttered kitchen counters.

 With space tight in our pull-out pantry, we were amassing a pile of plastic bags full of sunflower seeds, pasta, oatmeal and the like, all secured with twisty-ties and aging chip clips. Not a very pretty – or convenient — arrangement. So I picked up some simple glass canisters from Target and, lo and behold, the room was (very subtly) transformed.

I can’t believe I’ve been so slow to embrace such a timless kitchen organization system. By the way, we aren’t crazy over sunflower seeds – they’re for the chickens.

 The gleaming glass containers so easily spruced up our countertops that I’m thinking of going back for more – or picking up some of the half-gallon Ball jars I hear they carry at Michael’s. I was so excited, in fact, that I whipped up my first roundup/inspiration board/mood board. It may not the most aesthetically-pleasing one out there, but I’m no interior designer and this was my first try. So without further ado, here’s a collection of cute and classic counter space savers.

 

1. anchor hocking heritage hill jars, target, $10.79 2. vintage jadite flour canister, etsy, $58 3. deruta-style canister set, sur la table, 69.95 4. old dutch decor copper canisters, amazon, $64.99 5. ball 125th anniversary jar, JC Penney, $19.99 6. Pfaltzgraff small country canister, pfaltzgraff, $9.99 or $49.99 for set of 3 sizes 7. le creuset 4 qt. cherry canister, amazon, $49.99 8. enamel bread box, the vermont country store, $59.95

Next mission in operation anti-kitchen clutter: finding some kind of caddy or plate for storing our soap, dish detergent and sponges so we don’t have to constantly wipe the wet, sudsy spots that collect beneath them on the counter. A pretty ceramic dish, perhaps?

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Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, organization

Fine Print

My plan this week was to chronicle Arts & Crafts San Francisco, the city’s annual sale of all things bungalow style. But after staying up past 3 a.m. the night before (my boyfriend’s band had a late gig) we just couldn’t convince ourselves to tackle an early 2-1/2 hour trek on a crowded freeway.

I’m sorry to have missed the chance to photograph all the handcrafted furniture, the pottery, the Native American art – but I’m most bummed about missing Yoshiko Yamamoto.

Colvos Passage Sunrise

Yamamoto hand carves her Japanese-influenced arts and crafts designs into wood and linoleum blocks, then prints the images on letterpress. The results are the most simple but stunning scenes of animals, botanicals and landscapes.

Here’s Autumn Leaves, a small print I picked up at the show last year (I promise it looks much better in real life).

And the pair of circle prints I got a few Christmases ago.

From cute little mice to moody ravens, I can’t wait to add another of her nature prints to my collection.

Mice - Yamamoto

Early Spring - Yamamoto

 Or 0ne the landscapes that seem to capture California’s rolling hills, oak groves and late afternoon light effortlessly.

Evening Oak - Yamamoto

Speaking of arts and crafts-inspired prints that features my favorite places, is anyone else smitten with Ranger Doug’s line of reproduction WPA National Park posters?

 

I’m really digging the vintage colors schemes. I’ve got a 2010 WPA poster art planner/calendar, and I’m thinking of tearing out the best 8 by 6 cards (I think there are about 37 in all) and framing them for some cheap wall art. Now I’ve just got to figure out where to put them.

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Filed under art, interiors, retro, vintage