Category Archives: design

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?


Filed under design, interiors, organization

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

Traditional Ikea


The first time I took my parents to Ikea, they thought I was crazy. Sure, they liked the prices – and my dad loved the meatballs – but they just couldn’t see the light-toned, self-assemble Scandinavian furniture and bold prints fitting into a traditional home like their own. 

 While I’ll admit that not everything at the blue and gold giant fits my style, I enjoy hunting for the things that do. I never fail to leave Ikea exhausted, but inspired. Who knew you could set up a cute (theoretically) workable living space in 300 square feet? 

Lately, it seems that I’m finding even more pieces that I could easily incorporate into our home – or any old house, for that matter. In honor of the new Ikea catalog scheduled to hit stores early this month, I thought I’d take a look at the more traditional side of the Swedish spectrum. 

Ikea has recently been advertising this bed for $199. 

  Sure, it’s not mahogany or anything – and I’ve found that IKEA’s dark-stained pieces have a tendency to scratch easily, exposing the light wood underneath. But where else can you buy a nice, simple Shaker-style bed for under 200 bucks?

 Or how about this cute little country linen cabinet? Never mind that at $250, it’s more than the bed. 

 Since we’ve never actually had a dining room, we’ve happily made do with IKEA’s tiniest two-seater table for almost six years. But if I were to want an affordable upgrade, I think this little round table and simple chairs would suit the arts and crafts feel of our house. 

Call me boring and basic, but I like a white kitchen.  And you can’t get one much more classic and inexpensive than this. These wainscot-inspired cabinets  would be at home in a beach house, a cottage or a bungalow.


And these side tables could work with a mid-century, traditional or country theme – or just about anything. 


 Of course, browsing Ikea’s website is nowhere near as fun as touring the store, where you can get a feel for how to style all the furniture in those flat boxes. Is it just me, or are there any other closet Ikea addicts out there? Have you ever found anything not-too-Ikea at Ikea?


Filed under bedrooms, design, interiors, kitchens, old houses

Freshly minted

I’ve heard of color schemes inspired by nature. And my favorite paint colors seem to unconsciously mimic foods (my plans for a light golden wheat kitchen somehow turned into banana cream pie – or lemon bar, I’m not sure which). 

 But I love the muse of the homeowner featured in this month’s Better Homes and Gardens – a mint green 1930s shake mixer. 

Image from Better Homes and Gardens

You know how that creamy Jadite color looks so at home on the shelves of a vintage kitchen? It also looks great on the walls, tiles and wainscoting – especially when coupled with cool, crisp white.

Image from Better Homes and Gardens

It makes sense to incorporate the shade of something you know and love into your home’s decor, whether it’s part of your antiques collection, your wardrobe or even your most-used household appliance. 

Come to think of it, my bright yellow walls do kinda match my KitchenAid mixer. 

Anyone else ever matched your color palette to something specific?


Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, vintage

Subway Style

I love the subway tiles we added to our kitchen during a recent remodel, but I sometimes wonder: Are they timeless or trendy?

Better Homes and Gardens

 The glossy white tiles do fit the era of my home, along with the (also new) white shaker style cabinets and nickel-plated latches. On the other hand, flip open almost any home decorating magazine today and it looks like everybody and their brother is rocking pretty much the same kitchen.

 Will my subway backsplash withstand the test of time, or will it someday – along with the stainless range and black granite countertop – identify my kitchen not as a 1930s-inspired preservation but as an obvious 2008-ish makeover?

 Maybe more importantly, should I really care? I’m the one looking at them, and I like what I see. Besides, I think they’re neutral enough to not be an issue, even if we decide to sell down the road (our bright banana walls are another story).

I think even trend-driven styles are OK if you adore them. I was surprised at how much I admired an aqua-hued sea glass backsplash I saw in the January issue of Sunset – or maybe I was just taken in by the sky-blue retro fridge and range.


 What do you think – is it cool to mix modern and vintage? Or do you prefer something you know you won’t want to rip out in 10 years?


Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, old houses, restoration

New Old Wallpaper

I think I’m becoming a wallpaper convert – and that’s saying something.

Growing up, wallpaper was a bad word in my family. Other banned terms included wall-to-wall carpet, popcorn ceilings and Sears siding, in case you were wondering.

Maybe my old house-loving parents were traumatized by childhoods spent in ranch houses with (among the country kitchens and avocado green drapes) groovy oversized flowers on the walls. Or maybe they just weren’t into the 1980s fake Victorian designs currently papering the inside of Grandma’s house. Either way, by the time I came around it was paint and wainscoting or the highway. And with neutral, spackled walls becoming (rather sadly) all the rage in modern homes, we weren’t alone – my friends didn’t have wallpaper, either.

 Long story short, I recently stumbled upon the beauty that is Bradbury and Bradbury and had a change of heart. And I’ve been drooling over their website ever since.

Bradbury and Bradbury/Lands End Frieze

  B & B makes historically-inspired art wallpapers, not old lady wallpapers. Think wood-blockish friezes of misty cypress trees, cool geometric art deco patterns, William Morris-inspired Victorian designs and whimsical art nouveau scenes, like this dove and lion. Also note their cool blog.

 Almost makes me want to break out the wallpaper glue.

Bradbury and Bradbury/Lion and Dove

Bradbury and Bradbury/Mahogany Volute

Bradbury and Bradbury/Lilies


Filed under design, interiors, old houses