Archive for September, 2010
I have written about the virtues of living a slower life before, but I also think living a smaller life is just as important. As my husband and I prepare to pack up our belongings to accommodate a few small construction projects in our apartment, I’ve realized how much stuff we actually own. We live in a small one bedroom apartment in New York City, so unlike most Americans, we do not have a garage, a basement or a storage unit. There’s only so much *stuff* we can actually gather. Regardless, we’ve still managed to collect a lot of things we don’t actually need. There is who knows what in our upper closets, textbooks from high school on our bookshelves, I won’t even admit to the number of pairs of shoes I own and our mail pile builds up to the sky. Plus living in a small apartment means that one thing out of place instantly looks and feels like clutter. This pre-construction packing up and organizing process has really made me reevaluate what’s truly important in our lives (and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not *stuff*)
In this consumer driven culture, more is seen as better. We’re told to want a new iPod, the latest fall fashions, or to constantly update our homes in the latest color combination. But I would rather love and treasure every single one of my belongings than chase the current, the trendy or the meaningless. I would rather wait for the exact right thing than buy 10 things that never quite fit or that I don’t love.
So why am I tell you all this? Because I am firmly avowing to be a better and smarter consumer. I know it’s easy for me to say and much harder to actually do. Trust me, I’m just as swayed by pretty new baubles as the next gal (did I tell you about my shoe collection?). But I do think it’s important to rid our lives of meaningless clutter and focus on the things (and people) that truly matter. I’m not swearing to get rid of everything in my apartment and start living an minimalist lifestyle (wouldn’t happen in a million years!). What I am promising to do is: think about the effect of my buying habits, evaluate every new purchase I make (if I need it or not), look over what I currently have and purge what I don’t truly need (give it a new life!). I challenge you to do the same.
So here’s how I’m going to do it:
Step one – get rid of all the paper. We’re drowning in junk mail, old magazines and brochures I’ve picked up here and there. We’ve already cancelled all the credit card offers and catalogs, so we’re part of the way there.
Step two – look at our possessions with different eyes. Pretend like we don’t live here and evaluate what we really use and love.
Step three – donate, recycle and repurpose. Donate everything we can to Goodwill, Salvation Army or Housing Works. Recycle what we can’t donate. And repurpose things we’d like to continue to use but don’t use now for whatever reason.
Step four – organize! I’ll get into this step with you later, but there are tons of great products out there to help you get organized that are green.
I’d love to hear you thoughts on decluttering your life. Leave a comment below and tell me how you’re going to live a smaller life and get back to what’s really important.
Of course, I could never leave you without a few beautiful pictures. These are my dream afters. Clutter free, organized, chic and totally meaningful. Enjoy!
To color code or not to color code books? What do you think?
It seems like up until quite recently sustainable design had always been seen as just another category of interior design. For some reason “green” needed to be a different classification than “residential,” “hospitality” or “commercial” design. So now when I see designers and manufacturers consciously integrating sustainable design into their everyday practice, I get very excited. People are starting to see green as just one piece of the design puzzle rather than its own separate puzzle, and I think this is such a wonderful step. Our goal as interior designers is to enhance the living environment for inhabitants. It is just as important to make a space beautiful as it is to make it healthy. So with that, I’m very excited to tell you about this latest merge of sustainability and style: Project UDesign.
Here’s what it’s all about. Century Furniture, BiOH® Polyols & Toray Ultrasuede challenged 15 Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students to create an eco-friendly and stylish upholstered wing chair. The participants were to use soy based BiOH® Polyols to replace a portion of the traditional foams. (Traditional upholstery foams contain a lot of petroleum. That’s right, oil. Ewww!) The chairs will be upholstered in Toray Ultrasuede’s new line of 100% recycled ultra-microfiber fabric called EcoDesign™. I’ve scattered the four remaining designs throughout this post, so make sure to scroll down!
The winning chair will be debuted at High Point Furniture Market on October 20 and then added to Century Furniture’s line. This is a huge deal for the students since they will get so much publicity and the winning chair will get royalties on sales. The winner will be chosen by you, the people, so make sure you go online and vote for your favorite!
Here’s how to vote:
Right now there are currently 6 wing chair designs and 4 semi-finalists left. You have until October 3 to vote for your favorite chair to be a finalist. The three finalists will be announced on October 4 here. Then you’ll have until October 19 to vote for the winner.
Here’s what the winning student will win:
1. A $1,000.00 cash prize from BiOH Polyols.
2. The addition of their winning eco-friendly wing chair design to Century Furniture’s permanent line-up, with production to begin this fall.
3. Royalties from Century Furniture on each chair that gets made and sold.
So make sure to go online and vote to support these amazing students!
I went back and forth on if I should tell you which one is my favorite (lest I sway you one way or another). But I figured you’re all able make your mind all on your own All of the chair designs are totally unique, inspired and chic – it was definitely hard to pick just one. But after much contemplation, I voted for the Alifair by Ryland Quillen. I think it’s the perfect mix of traditional & modern design and I love that you can see through the “wing” (something totally lacking in traditional wing chairs!). Plus I can imagine it working in so many different environments with just a change of upholstery. And if it wins, maybe I’ll even add it to my living room!
There are many design bloggers talking about this project online, so if you’re interested in seeing which chair they liked, you can read these blog entries: The Studio Luxe from Marcia Zia-Priven, Interior Concepts from Wanda S. Horton, Frou La La from Maybelline Te and ABCD Design from Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo.
And again, make sure you go online and vote!
I found this bedroom in an old issue of House Beautiful UK and thought the gray tones were perfect for this gray day, especially because I know I’d rather be curled up on my bed. The room was designed by Oliver Heath, who you may know from the UK series, Changing Rooms (Trading Spaces was the US version). Heath has since become an eco expert and does lots of styling work for House Beautiful. I’m loving the color palette and overall serene feeling of this room. And of course, the best part for me is always that it’s an eco-friendly bedroom. Enjoy!
I love the look of chaise-longues, although I have yet to live in a bedroom that has enough room for one. Maybe someday I’ll a) have enough time to read a book propped up in one and b) have enough space in my bedroom for one.
Photos from All About You / House Beautiful UK
It’s been a gray & rainy day here in New York and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a little while. So rather than wallow in the humidity and gloom, I wanted to brighten your day with Perch!, a lovely ceramics company out of Brooklyn. Perch! modern ceramic products are designed by Amy Adams (from Minneapolis – shout out for my home state of MN!) and are totally eco-friendly. The finishes are non-toxic, they use low-impact materials & processes and are the perfect way to support your local economy. As someone who never takes herself all that seriously, I’m loving the mix of whimsy, clean lines and bright colors of these pieces.
Here are a few of my favorites, although make sure to check their website for more. You can buy their products online, but there are tons of retailers around the US and abroad selling their products too. Enjoy!
I mean, how could you not smile if a Henrietta the Bird (or seven) was hanging in your house? I’m smiling just looking at the picture!
I’m loving their signature fade technique as shown here on these Mini Pots. It’s such a pretty detail.
This Diego Desk Lamp also has the gorgeous fade technique. I think I might be partial to this sunny yellow color, although I could be persuaded in favor of turquoise, green, grey, brown or orange…
You could spell your entire name out with these Letter Lights or write funny messages to your guests.
This Plant Pod is another option for your greenery. The inner and outer layers are genius.
I can think of a million uses for this Spot Bowl. And I’m loving the colored interior – it’s like a surprise on the inside!
I mean, seriously?! LOVE! I don’t think I’d be able to keep a straight face when using these Shake a Leg Salt & Pepper Shakers though.
I’m going to finish up this post with something a bit more serious (although not too much thankfully!). I want to go get a new plant just so I can get one of these Campy Planters.
Photos from Perch! Modern Ceramics
With our upcoming construction projects, I’ve been scouring the internet for antique hardware. Besides being incredibly eco-friendly, vintage door knobs & drawer pulls add so much character to your space. And as an added bonus, oftentimes they’re less expensive than new hardware. So while I’ve been looking for my own apartment, I thought I’d show you some of the cool things I’ve found – a vintage hardware inspired round-up.
What specifically have I been looking for, you ask? Well, we bought an antique dresser during our Brimfield trip a few weeks ago. While it’s a beautiful piece, the drawer knobs are boring plain wood and are falling off. I figure this is a perfect excuse to replace them with something with a bit more character. I’ll show you the before and after when I finally make up my mind. Until then…
1. Set of 2 vintage handles 2. Medium French Vintage brass drawer knob 3. Forged bronze ring pulls 4. Deco cabinet pulls 5. Art Deco glass pulls 6. Large Decorative brass trim plates 7. Drawer pull & knob 8. Vintage white & gold knobs 9. Handpainted vintage porcelain knobs 10. Large vintage Art Deco handle 11. Wide vintage curved wood handles
The other thing we’re looking for are vintage door knobs to replace our current broken, boring and dirty ones. Again, something with a bit more character would be nice. And since we only need three knobs, I’ve found tons of options. I’m partial to glass handles like #1 below. However, the question is, to match or not to match? Thoughts?
1. Antique glass door knobs 2. Bronze Corbin Hex knobs 3. Large cobalt blue etched knob 4. Victorian Brass Doorknobs 5. Brown swirl door knob set 6. Brass doorknob set 7. Antique Victorian Brass Door Knob set 8. Matching Brass & Copper knobs 9. Yale & Towne’s Madras entry door set (scroll down page) 10. Antique porcelain door knob (similar to image)
Okay, this one is not technically eco-friendly but it is for a good cause. Plus I love me an iconic chair. These pink Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs come from SUITE New York. They enlisted twenty top designers to create a one of a kind cushion to be auctioned off to benefit Breast Cancer Research Foundation. These chairs will be on display at Barneys in New York starting with a kickoff on October 7. A pink version of the chair (minus the cushions of course) will be available at SUITE New York with 20% of the proceeds going to BCRF.
I’m just loving the creativity that went into these cushions. It definitely inspires me to try something crazy in my own house. Now if I only had a Wishbone chair to experiment with…
Chairs on left from Kelly Behun, Julie Hillman & Tori Golub respectively. Chair on right from Alexandra Champalimaud.
Chair on left from Celerie Kemble. Chair on right from Amy Lau.
Chair on left from Lulu DK. Chair on right from Sara Rotman (you may remember that I showed her super fabulous Hamptons house a little while ago).
Chair on left from Annie Kelley. Chair on right from Kelly Wearstler. Not sure I’d want to sit on this one, but Kelly is fabulous as ever!
Chair on left from Allegra Hicks. Chair on right from Alexa Hampton.
Photos from Interior Design and Suite NY
We’re about ready to start construction our apartment in a few short weeks. By its very nature, construction can be a very un-green process. Lots of waste, new materials, toxic adhesives and paints, energy use, well, you get the idea. In spite of all this, we want to make our construction as eco-friendly as possible. Our first goal? Re-use as many existing materials as we can. We’re only replacing what absolutely needs to be replaced and nothing else. Next up? Using eco-friendly materials where possible. That means low-VOC paints, recycled tiles and quartz countertops (more on all that later). And when we finally get around to buying furniture and home accessories, those will be as green as possible too.
I would have taken “before” pictures to show you, but right now our apartment is a DISASTER. It’s tough to have the motivation to truly clean up when you know your house will be a construction site soon. I’ll be documenting the whole experience so maybe when it’s all done, I’ll bring out the before pics so I can at least justify the mess with the beautiful afters.
Now I’ve seen a lot of interior products – it’s what I do all day and how I unwind at night (what could be better than a new shelter mag and a glass of wine?) I’m generally a lover of most things, but it takes something really unique to get me to truly sit up and take notice. So when I first saw wallpaper and pillows from Shanan Campanaro of Eskayel, they stopped me dead in my tracks. The patterns are beyond gorgeous and so different than anything I’ve ever seen. (See what I mean? A smattering of the patterns are above).
Shanan is an artist by trade but started experimenting by digitally manipulating portions of her artwork into kaleidoscopic patterns on wallpaper. The result is what you see here. You can tell that a few of these came from a painting of a sleeping polar bear (beyond gorgeous), while others it’s much harder to tell. I imagine you can look at this wallpaper for hours and always see something different. Here’s a link to Shanan’s artist website so you can see the original works of art for yourself.
Now for the green creds: Shanan’s pillows are 100% eco-friendly, made with organic denim, water based inks and digitally printed (and made locally if you’re near Pennsylvania and sold in Brooklyn). The wallpapers contain no VOCs, are vinyl free and also digitally printed (no run off waste). Gorgeous and eco-friendly? Sign me up!
So what else will Eskayel be taking on you ask? Fabrics and ceramic tumblers. I have to save something for another post, so you’ll have to be patient. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of Shanan Campanaro’s gorgeous patterns. Enjoy!
Photos from Eskayel
Not that you need further convincing that eco-friendly and stylish are not mutually exclusive, this stunning house brings my point home (sorry, I had to say it). It was designed by Scott A. Lee, president of S.B. Architects, to be his family’s home. Located just north of San Francisco, it is Marin County’s first LEED Platinum house. I’ll let this pictures speak for themselves, but I think it’s a wonderful mix of modern, warm, slightly Asian & Mid-Century Modern. The photo above of the exterior is my absolute favorite. Can you imagine coming home to that every night?
This is the living room. You can just see past the windows to their amazing view and gorgeous natural setting. Although I think the architecture of this room is beautiful all on its own.
Another view of the living room towards the fireplace. I’m loving all the ceiling details – something you don’t normally see in new houses that are generally just plain white.
I’m loving the oversized pendant in this room. I can imagine spending lots of time here in the wintertime with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate!
Bathroom on the left with a gorgeous bright color scheme. Dining Room on the right with a slab of sustainably harvested wood. I think a table like this must inspire great dinner conversation!
A fireplace in the Master Bathroom? Now that’s luxury!
Photos by Mariko Reed from Shelter Pop & SB Architects
I’ll admit it, I’m as guilty as the next design blogger for being completely in love with Mad Men. Something about the sets, the clothes, the characters, who knows. I was, of course, watching Mad Men for the latest installment and was inspired by Don’s office to create a green, handsome and sexy room scheme inspired by Sterling, Draper, Cooper, Price. Plus with fall now officially upon us, I figured it’s also a good excuse to plug some good office supply companies.
1. Okay, I know Don Draper is not the best father in the world, but what father wouldn’t have a picture of his kids on his desk? Misali Recycled Metal Frame from Greener Style.
2. I’d like to think that one of those guys has a globe in their office, especially one as handsome as this. Vintage Paul McCobb Bronze Desktop Globe from 20C Design via 1st Dibs.
3. Guest chairs for impromptu meetings (and drinks). Glyn Water Dining Arm Chair from Edward Ferrell.
4. This incredible desk is what I based the entire design scheme on. I won’t even mention the price (you might faint!). It was designed by Bodil Kjaer in the 1960 and is absolutely swoon-worthy! Bodil Kjaer Desk from Ciancimino (via 1st Dibs).
5. This desk chair is absolutely what they would have used in the 1960s. This Eames chair is the original design from Herman Miller.
6. Any office worthy of Mad Men should be adequately wood paneled. Fake the look with Ajiro Chevron wood wallpaper from Maya Romanoff.
7. This table lamp fits the scheme, although it might be a tad too modern for Mad Men. Sorry Don, I love it. Metro Series No. 6 from Whyrhmyer.
8. Appointments would absolutely be kept in a leather bound journal. And this one is eco-friendly to boot. Advisor Planner from Ecosystem.
9. And of course binders for all of their accounts. Classic Binder from the Naked Binder.
10. These vintage travertine bookends would make a handsome statement. Death Valley Antique Travertine Bookends from Etsy.