Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Saarinen Executive Chairs as Dining Chairs

Saw this picture in Canada's Style at Home magazine.  I love the textured gray upholstery on these Saarinen Executive Chairs, and these chairs used as dining chairs.  Mixing them in with all of the glam and feminine touches in this room takes away some of the strange futuristic appearance they can sometimes have.  

I posted awhile back about the home of Bonnie Edelman, and they also used these chairs in their dining room to a totally different effect.  Of course with the same table (different material).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Details From an Abandoned Cement Factory

This abandoned cement factory on the outskirts of Barcelona was rescued by architect Ricardo Bofill.  He lives and works here.  Where can I even start?  Such a big, wide open space - high ceilings is an understatement.  Can you even imagine how much those window treatments weigh?  I love the shots of light and greenery coming through the tall, arched windows and the way you can see that this building had a previous life as something else.  My favorite part of this space is all of the material details.  Rough materials like cement, brick, board-pressed concrete coming together so beautifully.  I would definitely not mind having this as a live/work space.

Featured in Elle Decor Jan/Feb 2013 in the article "Concrete Poetry."  Originally featured in Elle Decoration UK.  Photography by Richard Powers.  Images from

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monochrome Danish Log Cabin

I really love the way the dark-painted exterior of this log cabin looks nestled back in the tall trees.  I am a little bit on the fence about the interior, or actually maybe just the photography style of the interior.  Don't get me wrong, this is a great interior.  I just get a weird feeling from the images.  With all that rough wood and that great rug, it should feel more welcoming - warm and fuzzy.  I mean it is a log cabin.  But the whites just look so stark and it seems a bit colder than it should.  Maybe it's just that white northern light?

Images from Elle Decor Jan/Feb 2013.  Originally featured in Elle Decor Italia.

Monday, January 21, 2013


What are your favorite blogs?  I keep accumulating more and more, so I started using Bloglovin' to keep track of them all.  I can use the app or website to read all of my faves in one place.  Lately my favorite has been Hommemaker, by Orlando Soria, an interior designer in LA.  His writing is hilarious and makes me actually laugh out loud.  He works with Emily Henderson, who writes another favorite blog of mine, filled with helpful information and written in a personal tone, as if a real, approachable person is speaking to you.  I tend to prefer blogs like that, unpretentious ones where you get a real sense of the person writing it - they are always the ones I read first.  Another like that is Elements of Style, by Erin Gates, a designer/stylist in Boston.  A few of my favorites for eye candy are French By Design, Roseland Greene, Desire to Inspire, My Scandinavian Home, and The Marion House Book.  There are loads of others I follow, that's just a short list of my tops.  I'm sure I am missing some great ones and would love to hear about them!

If you'd like to start following my blog along with your other favorites on Bloglovin, you can use the link below:
Alive & Kicking on Bloglovin

Friday, January 18, 2013

Light Filtering Detail

I love how slatted planks were used to allow some light to peek into the master bedroom in this cottage in Gothenburg, Sweden.  They cast a nice pattern on the interior.  Images from Elle Decor Jan/Feb 2013, as featured in "Cottage Industry" (originally featured in Elle Decoration France).  Photos by Jean-François Jaussaud/Lux Productions.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Apartment Challenge :: Replacing Sofa Legs :: part 1

Our sofa with its current wood block legs

I decided to jump on this project now, since it should be an easy one to tackle.  I am going to change out our sofa legs because I am tired of the standard wood block Ikea legs.  I want something a bit more sophisticated, and am planning on a tapered, midcentury-style leg, about the same height as the existing ones, and in a darker wood tone so that they stand out less visually.  Please kindly ignore the artwork hanging situation in the above photo.  That is my next project.

I found this helpful and inspiring article on the blog Honey Badger Home.  Love the name of the blog, and love the honey badger.  They went a step further than just replacing the legs and tufted the cushions for an even more midcentury look.  I am cool with the untufted cushions though.  Ours are getting pretty slouchy from over two years of use, but I like it that way.  Nice and casual.

Anyway.  I didn't really want to mess with Home Depot (have you been to an urban Home Depot?) and tools and metric/english conversions, so I just kept looking and looking and eventually found Uncle Bob's Workshop, who makes sofa legs that are explicitly billed as replacements for the Ikea Karlstad sofa.  You can order them in a variety of woods and finishes (or unfinished), and even with brass feet.  Here are some pics from their website:

A sofa with Uncle Bob's Workshop replacement sofa legs
A shot of just the sofa legs

I went ahead and ordered twelve replacement walnut legs for our sofa and ottoman and cannot wait for them to arrive.  Since I am picky about things, I emailed first to see how to get a matte finish (I'm thinking a glossy finish will reflect more light and draw more attention to the legs, plus I just personally prefer wood that has a more natural looking finish) and also to see if I can have them sent without the white protective pads on the bottom.  I plan to add my own, slightly smaller, black felt pads so that they won't be visible.  Uncle Bob emailed me back almost immediately with answers that were helpful, which was excellent.

I may try taping and dipping the feet in a gold metallic paint to get the brass feet look, or I might just leave them as is.  We shall see.  Check back soon for pics that show the replacement legs!

On a separate but somewhat related note, I sometimes am looking around at beautiful furniture and wanting to splurge on a really gorgeous sofa (or custom design one), but then something like this happens and I realize that this old Ikea thang with its washable, zip-off covers is really just perfect for us:

Oopsy! Did I do that?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Casual/Luxe Cottage by Peter Dunham

How great is that giant dining nook?  Using two separate tables allows people seated in the center of the long banquette to squeeze in and out, which is smart.  I just love dining areas fitted with custom banquettes.  If I don;t get to design one for myself sometime soon I might have to do it for someone else.  Any takers?

This image is from a Newport Beach cottage designed by Peter Dunham, as featured in House Beautiful February 2013.  Photography by Victoria Pearson.

This project features so many GORGEOUS rugs and textiles.  And also lots of great layering and style mixing.  You can see some more photos after the jump...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Great Wall Treatment

Neat wall treatment in the Park Ave apartment of Tom Samet, as featured in House Beautiful February 2013.  Photography by Paul Raeside.

It would be ambitious, but with careful planning and a good chunk of time I think it could be DIY'ed.  You could also break the grid and go for a less conventional arrangement.  Smart how it can be used to conceal vents but still allow airflow, as they've done here above the door.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Apartment Challenge :: Audubon Print Gallery

About a year ago, I received this lovely set of Audubon prints as a graduation gift from a good friend.  I love birds and I love nature illustrations, so I was super happy to receive these prints.  They sat around for a while, and finally I decided that it was time to do something with them!

You might remember my goals for our entry wall from my previous apartment challenge post.  We had a blank wall that needed some love.  So I got to it.

I started by spreading out all of the prints and deciding which ones would work the best in a cluster in that area.  I initially thought I might go with some of the more colorful prints, like this one:

Roseate Spoonbill, John James Audubon
but I just wasn't feeling it.  I know I tend to get tired of colors quickly, so I wound up selecting six prints with more muted coloring and lots of blue-gray, which works really well with the color of my walls.  Once I had my selections I played with taping them up on the wall to see how I wanted to lay them out:

L: Two of the prints I chose to display; R: Mock-up of the layout

I kept the prints that were fully colored in at the bottom, and used the two with white sky backgrounds at the top, so it feels like it gets lighter as it goes up.  The placement of the buzzer phone and light switch also helped to dictate the layout.  The bottom of the gallery is about 32" off the ground to allow space for a small accent table that we use to drop keys, pocket change, gloves, hats, etc.

Next I needed to decide how I was going to frame these puppies.  Budget was a consideration, so I knew I would probably be working with Ikea.  Since the images themselves are muted and not in too great a contrast with my walls, I opted for a darker frame to help set the prints apart from the walls.  I chose to go with an Ikea Ribba frame in medium brown.  These frames do come with mats, which is a plus, however my artwork wasn't standard photo size and I wanted to add a special detail element to the framing, so I didn't use the mats.  Instead I visited Grayline Fabrics in Midtown, which has a pretty wide selection of linens.  Printed, solid, and varying weights.  I selected a linen (Warsa Oatmeal, I think) to use in the frames behind each print.  

L: Linen for behind the prints; R: Wrapped backboard, Coco helped.
I wanted to add fabric to the framing to give the whole thing a bit more luxury and oomph, but opted for linen because it still looks and feels very natural/casual and just always appeals to me.  I thought about cutting mats and wrapping them with the linen, but I didn't want to get too fussy with this project.  I just wrapped each backboard in the linen and plopped it back into the frame with the print.  I trimmed the prints down a bit to show more of the linen and used a bit of rolled scotch tape between the print and the linen to keep the prints from sliding around.  Super simple.  You can see the frame clips a bit (see top picture), but I decided I was cool with that.  I like when you have a peek at how things work.

One of the framed prints
If you ignore the five hour trip to the emergency room that resulted from me cutting my finger and needing stitches (it healed, I'm fine, but do watch your fingers when you're cutting with a blade and straight edge, even if you've done it a million times before), this was a pretty easy, quick project.  Budget friendly too.  I think the cost of the frames and linen was probably about $80-$90 bucks for six prints, which comes out to about $14 per print.  And you could vary this in so many ways: spray painting/gold leafing the frames, wrapping mats in the fabric, using other types of fabric, etc.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Historic Meets Contemporary :: Elle Decor

Great project, and I love the mixture of historic farmhouse and contemporary elements.  Lots of really great chairs in this one.  And I always love me some sisal/rattan/black metal/wood/camel leather/calm, muted palette.  

Interior design by Robert Stilin.  Photographs by William Waldron.  As featured in Elle Decor December 2012: Hamptons Classic.  More photos of this project can be seen on Elle Decor.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

PixCell Deer #24 :: WHOA

This is just - whoa.  It's beautiful, creepy, and ridiculous all at the same time.  It is the work PixCell Deer #24 by artist Nawa Kohei, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I have to go see it in person.  From the Met's website:
This taxidermied deer has been completely transformed through the artist’s use of variably sized “PixCell” beads, a term he invented. PixCell is a portmanteau word combining the idea of a “cell” with that of a “pixel,” the smallest unit of a digital image. Whether intentionally or unintentionally on the artist’s part, PixCell-Deer#24 resonates with a type of religious painting known as a Kasuga Deer Mandala, which features a deer—the messenger animal of Shinto deities—posed similarly with its head turned to the side, and with a round sacred mirror on its back. For painters of the Rinpa school, the deer was depicted often as a companion of ancient sages and had auspicious or poetic associations.
 Brings me back to this, an amazing day in Nara, Japan in 2006.  Feeding deer in the park (and wrestling with them to get back our map).