Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Art Deco Origins

We have a fantastic library of design books at work, which is, not surprisingly, focused on gardens and architecture. Hidden on the shelves with some of the other architecture books I found this gem, and I've been fascinated with it ever since.

The book includes articles from House and Garden magazine as well as the mostly black and white photographs that accompanied the articles. In the section on the 1920's there's a great article written by the then-editor of House and Garden magazine, Richardson Wright, about his mixed reactions to the 1925 Exhibition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. The intent of the exhibition was to showcase French design and designers as leaders in the design world; it was mostly a state-sponsored marketing campaign on a giant level. The exhibition is now pinpointed as a sort of starting point for the modernist design movement; the Art Deco label was applied many years later, in the 1960's.

Detail above and cabinet by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann,
noted cabinet designer,
who participated in the 1925 Paris exhibition.

Ruhlmann's Hotel du Collectioneur, from the 1925 Paris Exhibition.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lucite Love

Ok, I have a confession to make. I'll admit it, I'm feeling a little smug.

I decided at the last minute to head out to some yard sales on Saturday morning. I only made it a very short block when I realized that some neighbors had set up a sale in the front yard. And they just happened to be a group of very talented local interior designers who were getting rid of some accessories and pillows, etc. Yippee!

Oh, and one groovy little chair:

For FIVE dollars! (that's the smug part)
I am now planning on finally reorganizing guest room/study so that this can be my computer chair.

It's no secret that I love Art Deco furniture. (If that's a surprise, re-read the blog description at the top of the page.) But I also have a weakness for mod Lucite furniture, and if you're careful with the lines of the pieces, they can go together well. There's also a lot of visual appeal to see-thru, airy furniture when you're living in tight quarters.

In a quick search I came up with a couple places to find similar mod contemporary styles.

Similar base, but a different chair shape. Found here.

Similar chair shape, different base. Found here.

Or something a little curvier, found at this incredible site:

A pair like these could be pretty versatile, and they could blend in with a more traditional decor. And for any of you in the Atlanta area, one of my favorites, The Antique Factory in Chamblee did have a pair very similar to this a few months ago.

For tradition with a twist, there's the Philippe Starcke designed Louis Ghost Chair:

Sourced here, but a quick web search will turn up tons of other retailers as well.

There's always some kind of lucite furniture on Ebay, and Craigslist may surprise you as well. Happy hunting....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finding Joy

Lest anyone think I've been doing nothing but introspective navel-gazing, let me reassure you that's not the case! The spring weather has been amazing, and honestly, some days I'm just not that deep. Wave something shiny or colorful or flowery in front of me, and I can be distracted. Throw in some animals, and some thrills, and I'm all in.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time, so I got invited to a little girls' outing over the weekend.

Literally, little girls as it turns out. While their parents had a fun, band-fest weekend, Grandma Jojo and Auntie Dame (apologies to Patrick Dennis!) took the kids to a carnival. The girls had a ball.

They posed for the paparazzi.

They met a shady character or two.

They learned important grooming skills, like brushing hair, and applying makeup.

They took some dubious transportation:
by dragon

by teacup

by plane

They saw some contemporary art

They even had some fabulosity training while being chauffered home.

All in all, it was a big, fun, hot, sunburnt day. The girls were fantastic, and really, one ought to be able to learn some lessons from them.

1) They enjoyed each other's company.

2) They practiced the things they needed to improve upon, like swinging by themselves, and climbing monkey bars.

3) They were decisive about what they wanted: the ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-whirl, and ice cream. They were clear about what they didn't want: pony rides, cotton candy.

4) They were brave and tried some new things, even if they looked a little scary: the Tilt-a-Whirl (where Auntie Dame screamed the loudest), and, hello - PYTHON AROUND THE NECK!

5) They rocked some accessories and face paint.

Definitely cool dames-in-training!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Forward?

And now, a moment away from from pinups and vintage, away from furniture lust, design and decorating. Here’s a moment from my mid-life crisis.

Typically spring symbolizes rebirth, but somehow this year there is a much stronger sense of transition and change, and I'm feeling off-kilter.

On the work front, a project my company has been working on for more than two years is drawing to a close. It’s been exciting, it’s been challenging from a design standpoint, and occasionally it’s been frustrating. In the last month or so everything has finally come to together, and I am damned proud of my involvement in the project. But now I’ve got that end-of-project anxiety, and I’m starting to wonder ‘what’s next?’

On the personal front, my sister’s forty-something husband (my brother in law) was diagnosed about 8 weeks ago with a malignant brain tumor, a Stage 4 Glioblastoma. So far, I generally haven’t blogged about it here, because I feel like it’s their story to tell, not mine. You may hear a few observations from the sidelines, though.

BIL had surgery to remove the tumor, and Friday was his last day in a six week course of radiation and chemo. At a time when no one knows what comes next, he and my sister decided to celebrate making it through this stage by going out on the town this weekend with a big group of friends; they went to see a couple bands and booked a hotel room.

(The Avett Brothers)

I'm proud of them for carving out a moment of normalcy and happiness in a time of uncertainty. And I've been a little worried all weekend that they over-planned, because the bottom line is that after six weeks of radiation and chemo, BIL tires easily and early in the evening. What would ordinarily be a recapturing-our-youth weekend, has probably been a big undertaking.

Lately, I've found myself wondering, just how did it happen that even my late-blooming, bohemian peer group has stopped having babies, and started having bad knees and cancer?

Even life with Smithy seems to be in transition at the moment. Interesting times are surely ahead…

So, with eagerness, with worry, with hope, I ask: what’s next?

(dogwood photo from flickr)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If you like vintage pictures....

Madame Satan (1930)

with a little sass and spice, please, please check out It'll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters.
Fabulous, funny, and a million and one images from the 20's to 40's.

Palmy Days (1931)
(because I couldn't resist the sofa!)

Beast of the City (1932)
(or possibly just Smithy and me later on tonight after doing taxes)

All images from Amy Jeanne's entry about Pre-Code movies of the 30's.

Monday, April 14, 2008


In lieu of, you know, actually doing my TAXES, thought I'd eke out another moment or two of not doing them.

So, right about now, I wish this picture was me.

In reality, this is the Dame's hot mama in her really hot college days.

In what was possibly the best college job ever - lifeguarding at the pool in Gross Point Michigan. At least the view must have been good.

Lucky girl!

Back to the 1040 hell.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gratuitous Dog Pictures...

...because the home computer is having a meltdown, and because I ought to be working on my taxes. Here are a few pictures from the Dame archives of my buddies.

Jack, caught in a rare smiling moment.

The statuesque Miss Ophelia.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thrifting Joy!

As an aside from the Great Bathroom Reno of '08, I had a moment when the thrifting and antiquing gods smiled upon me yesterday.

I ran across something a lot like this:

I was cruising through one of my regular weekend stops, just checking it out. It's one of those stores that is (maybe) a step or two above a real thrift store, but not in any way a real antique store either. Picture a large store with tightly spaced rows upon rows of not-so-great quality mid-fifties furniture, usually stacked on top of each other. And then on every flat surface is every single piece of glassware, ceramic, and old bottle that you turned your nose up at at the garage sale down the street. It's dusty, it's cluttered, for the most part nothing is actually displayed, and the back room smells kinda...funky.

So why do I go? Because every so often there really is something cool there, and it's usually very affordable. There's enough of a reward from time to time to make the hunting fun. So yesterday, I stumbled across a match to a petite burled walnut side table that I have. The finish needs a little work, but it's really in decent shape, especially for the price. I snatched it up with the thought that someday I may resell them as a pair.

The only downside is that I made one, ahem, rookie mistake: it's not the mirror image of my current side table, so it's not really a matched pair; the doors both swing open from the same side. Stupid. I love the tables though, so who knows if and when I'll decide to part with them. Maybe the doors won't bother the future owner either....

Smithy has been holding my camera hostage for days. Photo above courtesy of this site.

Bathroom Renovation: planning stage part II

(Click to enlarge image)

Sorry for the lightweight graphics, but the picture above is my sketch for re-working the bath vanity, etc., while maintaining the current layout. I was inspired by an old article in Domino showing separate cabinets, with a pedestal sink inbetween. Since I don't have enough actual floorspace between the left-side wall and the commode to put in a pedestal sink, I'm thinking about a wall-mounted sink like this:
I like the vintage look of the separate hot and cold faucets, but is it a bad idea in reality?

And I would like to use this pair of Deco nightstands as a sort of deconstructed vanity.

The nightstands aren't as tall as a typical counter height, but I think that with the sink at the proper height, it will all make sense. The nasty colonial green paint will be stripped off the cabinets, so that the beautiful golden oak will show.

And in a possible step of overkill, I've already painted most of the bathroom white (Pratt and Lambert's Seed Pearl), and in an attempt to use up old paint, I've added 2 horizontal bands of darker paint (P& L's Lambswool and B. Moore's Alexandria Beige) starting at the baseboard. Then I'm planning on adding a hand painted motif like this in the corners of the room, just above the top band:
I think the pattern will reinforce the carved pattern on the nightstands - if it doesn't just look insanely tacky instead. Here's some of the carving on the nightstands:
It sounds sketchy, but I think it's going to work when it's all together.

There are still some decisions to be made and a budget to be worked on...This is not going to be a quick project!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bathroom Renovation: the planning stages

Is there such a thing as looking at too many design magazines and design blogs? All of my research has helped inspire me, and give me some interesting ideas for a bathroom overhaul. But it's also given me a big case of bathroom envy!

I've posted about the house in general here. The master bath was originally a side porch on our little 1917 cottage, back in the days before indoor plumbing, at least in our neighborhood! So, it makes a bit more sense that our master bath has always been a very plain, tacked on rectangle of a space. We have the basics: a tub/shower, toilet, and a sink cabinet, even an oddly placed window for some natural light. The clear floor space measures about 5' x 8', plus the tub/shower at the short side of the rectangle. What we lack is any kind of built in storage or even moldings. And the floor has a very definite slope away from the main body of the house. (Makes a certain amount of sense for a porch to sheet rainwater away from the house. Makes less sense in a finished bathroom!)

I've lived here for about 10 years, and over time the bath has been a couple different colors. Paint tip: avoid olive green paint in any small space in which you have to apply makeup or see yourself first thing in the morning! It casts a definite corpse-like glow to the face. I ought to be terribly embarassed to post this, but here's a Before pic when the bath was a more soothing taupe.

Bland and awful, no?
The current plan is to stick to a mostly cosmetic overhaul of the bathroom. I'm simply not going to have the budget to change walls or the window location, nor are we likely to level the floor at this point due to labor costs. I think that we can accomplish a lot with freestanding furniture and maybe some wall-mounted shelves for storage. The list of improvements looks a little like this:

1) Paint the walls - already in progress.
2) Replace sink cabinet with vanity.
3) New sink with vintage looking hardware.
4) Add baseboards and maybe molding at the ceiling.
5) Replace light fixtures.
6) Replace sheet vinyl flooring - what we have is intact, but not pretty.
7) Keep the tub/shower combo but change out the faucets, re-caulk, etc., and add a subway tile surround.