Friday, May 30, 2008

Design Love: Barkcloth

As part of the grand scheme for my front porch summer makeover, I would really like to freshen up the pair of pillows on my metal glider. So, I rationalized, what a perfect reason to surf ebay for more barkcloth fabric!

Here's some finds from current auctions, a little Friday eye candy.

The atomic patterns aren't usually my favorites, but I think this is a cool geometric/atomic one:

There are several chinoiserie-style patterns in different colorways available right now:

There are some of the more typical tropical patterns. This first one is a huge amount of yardage.

In addition to the usual cowboy theme, here's one with just horses:

And one of the coolest patterns I've ever seen, this tropical pattern with ZEBRAS!! The seller has a fascinating background story about meeting the designer of this fabric HERE. I think this one is amazing, but at a Buy It Now price of $195 for one yard of fabric, it's well beyond my budget!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hydrangea Blue

Like lots of people with more creative ideas than time, I have a looong list of unfinished house projects. That doesn't seem to stop me from brainstorming about the next project though...

So, one of the things I'd like to tackle this summer is a mini-makeover of my front porch. Just some fairly simple cosmetic things, but not anything requiring rebuilding . One of the simplest things that I want to do is repaint the front door, and change the color scheme a bit. While I'm at it, I will probably paint the vintage metal glider on the porch, and spruce up the throw pillows. I've had a coral-red front door for about ten years now, and while I love the color, I'm longing for something a little different. Something soothing and serene, but a little bit funky too.

Photo of SMITHY'S rails (and our red door) by LOUIS CAHILL.

Naturally, I've been pacing back and forth in the front yard with a couple of Benjamin Moore fan decks, drawing strange looks from the neighbors, and the color range that I keep coming back to is mid-blue. A stroll in the back garden helped clarify the idea: the color I'm looking for is a hydrangea blue.

In case you've ever wondered, there are about 3 Benjamin Moore colors that could fit the bill, depending on the depth of color you prefer. (Yes, I held a hydrangea blossom up the the fan deck.) In the Classic Colors fan deck, Aqua Marina 816 is the best match, but the lighter Swiss Blue 815, or the deeper Brazilian Blue 817 could also be in the correct family. See HERE.

Here's what the Benjamin Moore site has to say about blue in their Color Associations section:
"Blue is non-threatening, and is a symbol of trust and longevity. It is refreshing, soothing, calm, and dependable."

And, if you're looking for the real deal, here are a couple of great resources. Wilkerson Mill Gardens is an amazing and informative mail order nursery which specializes in hydrangeas. They are only shipping plants through the end of May, then will resume shipping in the fall when the weather cools off again. I still haven't made it to their retail location, but if you are in the metro Atlanta area, I understand it is well worth the drive to check out the nursery.

Another mail order favorite is Nurseries Caroliniana. They have many pages of hydrangeas in their catalog, in addition to an amazing variety of other plants, and I've been very happy with plants purchased from them.

Although some of the their links aren't working at the moment, The American Hydrangea Society is another good source of information.

Renowned plantsman Michael Dirr has a book on hydrangeas HERE.

And for more general info, the National Arboretum has a page dedicated to hydrangeas.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vintage Fix

Art Framm pinup, The Zoo

I'm out the door in a few minutes to check out a couple of yard sales - oops, no, sorry estate sales, in the posh part of the city near the Governor's Mansion. Yippee!

Also, I just found out yesterday that one of my favorite vintage clothing stores in Atlanta, Frock of Ages, is going to be moving to new digs this summer, as well as creating an online shop. So they are having a mega-sale on their clothing this weekend. Double yippee!

I promise to post an update if I come up with any new treasures.

In the mean time, can someone please reassure me that there is no age-related cut-off point for wearing interesting vintage clothing....

In honor of Frock of Ages, I've added a new link section for 'Vintage Stuff'. Most of the sites have Women's and Men's vintage clothing, and I think most have items from at least the 1920's on. Happy browsing!

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the moment

This is where I've been spending a lot of time lately....

'The Fairy' Rose

Robin Hood and The Fairy Roses

just hanging out with whatever book I'm pouring through at the moment. Enjoying the beasts, and the sunshine, and the amazing spring showing of roses and other perennials.

Mutabilis Rose

Mystery Rose


We should have a couple kinds of Irises coming up next....

For a small yard with three big dogs, we're not doing too badly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recharging: Faith

(image via flickr)

In light of what is going on with my brother-in-law, I had a conversation the other day about how and what people do in order to recharge in times of stress. Ways to comfort yourself or support yourself when life's events get overwhelming. And that got me thinking...

I think that many, many people fall back on their religious faith in times of trouble. So, what to do if you're not really sure just what you are? Or you suspect you're not any one faith?

Take a quiz!

I stumbled onto the Belief-o-matic quiz at several years ago, and I've taken it several times. My results come up pretty much the same every time - and no, I'm not sharing - *yet. Well, I may tip my hand by saying this, but...the quiz is pretty neutral; it doesn't seem too heavy-handed in the multiple choice answers, and you can also rate how strongly you feel about each individual answer.

Check it out HERE.

*Let's just say that my top 3 results were, ahem, non-traditional.
'Neo-Pagan' was in list. (I had to look it up later!)

Feel free to discuss results if you're comfortable with it, or tell me if you hate the quiz!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jack = Naughty

Remind me to never brag about my dogs' maturity ever again.
You just know that kind of statement will come back to bite you on the ass - and usually within about 24 hours.

I seem to recall telling family over the weekend that the dogs had finally matured, and they don't really chew things up any more....

Of my three-pack, Jack has always been the one who really has to have a structured routine to his day, otherwise, he finds things to do to amuse himself. Generally the exact things that humans don't want dogs to do.

Bad things, like chewing up the kitchen floor.
Or shredding things.

And he's not above a little doggy blackmail...

He's latest trick to steal shoes or pens, parade around with the object, and eventually present them at my feet. You see, a month or two ago, I 'traded' a bone for whatever object he had in his mouth. Jack thinks this is a great game. Now, object in mouth = give me bone, now!

So, with all the family situation going on over the last few days, life has hardly adhered to Jack's usual routine. I've been gone a lot, and the dogs have been confined more than usual, and haven't had as much exercise. This morning Jack decided to take matters into his own paws by chewing up the corner of one of my new-ish cowhide pillows. Not the kind of thing that can be mended very easily, unfortunately. And this is a dog that is almost five years old!

Looks like it's time for a bit of doggie bootcamp....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Big B

I've posted before about my brother-in-law, B, and his recent health problems. Well, the family just got word late yesterday that a follow up MRI showed new brain tumors, despite six weeks of chemo and radiation.

Surgery for tumor removal was quickly scheduled for today, with very little time for any of us to adjust to the news. The good news is that surgery went as well as could be hoped for today, and my brother-in-law is doing well in recovery. My sister is holding up as well as she can, and the outpouring of support from friends and family has been amazing.

Posting is likely to be sporadic at best for the next little while.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Design Love: small appliances

image from here

It's been a hectic week or so - sorry that posting has been non-existent.
Over the weekend I joined in on our neighborhood's semi-annual multi-family yard sale. Those things are much more fun to go to than to set up and actually do! Over all, I made a little money, but it was a day where items over a dollar did not move out. I put out a few items that I was ambivalent about selling, so they were priced...higher than a buck. I still have 'em.

Thank heavens for the kindness of strangers, though, because one interesting guy in a Hawaiian shirt told me in so many words that one particular item on my table could be worth a whole lot more than the $5 tag I had on it.

At the last minute I had thrown this vintage toaster in with my other yard sale goodies. I got it years ago, probably at another yard sale, and promptly put it in a cabinet. Somehow the cloth cord seemed like a bad combo with the geriatric wiring in my house.
So, a little internet searching a few days later, and it looks like I have a Knapp-Monarch toaster, probably from the 1930's. With the rounded edges and the stepped design on the ends, it definitley has a Deco vibe to it. The levers may be black bakelite, I'm not sure.

I haven't run across this exact model in my sleuthing, but I did stumble upon a collecting niche I never knew existed. There is a very devoted group of collectors of small appliances, and the industrial design of such things, out there, and this site is one of the most fun that I ran discovered: Vintage Toasters Blog.

It's a pretty straight forward site; they have vintage toasters, and the toasters are for sale. BUT, once you start looking you realize these folks have a lot of toasters. In fact, there are more than 30 group photos of toasters, and each group has at least five toasters. They have lovely toasters like this:

And there are a few shots that fall in the 'Old and Rusty ' category, like this:
Don't you love the painting (poster?) of toast next to the toasters?!
The best, though, is realizing that in the background of several photos, you can see lots of plastic storage bins, and you just know that they're probably full of more toasters! That's my kind of people.

If you just have to have your toast come from a stylish appliance, check out these other sources for retro toasters:
Toaster Central
The Toaster Art Gallery
The Cyber Toaster Museum

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Wild Kingdom

Do you ever stop and wonder...
what design and lifestyle bloggers' own homes look like?
Do they live as glamorously as the homes and images they portray?
Is life all about icy cold cocktails, pristine furnishings, witty banter, and fabulous frocks?
In a word, NO.
Not that this is exactly a design blog, and I don't try to present myself as living glamorously, but just no.

Darlings, there's a good reason why I like to get lost in the (assumed) elegance and style of an earlier era. Some days it helps me forget about the realities of actually living in a house from roughly the same time period. You see, my little nonagenarian cottage has more residents than I usually like to admit to in polite company. Besides Smithy and me, and the canine trio, from time to time there is evidence of creatures like this in the basement:

Which, over time, and with enough imagination and lots of icy cold cocktails, have turned into something more like this:
Rodent Of Unusual Size
from The Princess Bride

Now, I like to think of myself as a tough cookie.
A salt of the earth type.

But when actual vermin have been sighted, I revert to my suburban, upper middle-class roots, and start shrieking.

Sadly, Smithy seems to be a sudden and most emphatic believer in feminism whenever an assault on the four-legged foes is mentioned, so it looks like I'm on my own. He is not at all like this:
But then, I don't look exactly like Buttercup either...

Most of the exterminators I've spoken with so far are going to cost something akin to a couple of mortgage payments, so this is beginning to look like a DIY project out of my worst nightmares.

Because of these guys
I can't in good conscience use the typical poison bait blocks.
I'm just not willing to risk it.

Not to mention the potential impact on some of my less often viewed neighbors like these guys:
And last week I had a vivid dream with lots of these guys in it. Let's not talk about the dream symbolism...
*Elizabeth's comment reminded me that we occasionally have seen an Eastern Kingsnake hanging out in the boxwoods. Even with the delectable treats in the nearby basement, we haven't been able to convince it to become a permanent resident.
So it looks like it's time to put on the proverbial 'big girl panties', suck it up, and deal with the rat bastards.

I'm envisioning kitting myself out in something like this:

with an inspirational t-shirt like this:

so I can begin the eviction process.

Friday is D-Day - if I can psych myself up enough.
If I'm not back by Monday, send a search team to the basement of Chez Dame.

And if things get well and truly desperate, we might just have to get a cat. (Noooooooo!!!!)
Unfortunately, the canine crew is, ahem, not fond of cats - at all.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rotund vs. Craftsmanship

Chairs by Pierre Chareau

Inspired by the Richardson Wright quotes, I decided to track down more images of the furnishings and decoration on display at the 1925 Paris Exposition. (*I've seen the event referred to as both and Exhibition and an Exposition. Which one is correct?!)

Anyway, many of the architects and designers cited as being involved include: the already mentioned Ruhlmann, Andre Groult (pink and gray boudoir), Jean Dunand (smoking room), Pierre Chareau (library) [sounds like a game of Clue, doesn't it?!] as well as Francis Jourdain, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Maurice Dufrene, Paul Follot, Renee Lalique, and Edgar Brandt.

Happily enough, lots of beautifully photographed images of their work can be found at Architonic in their Design Collector database section. The following images of seating all come from that fantastic website. As best as I can tell, the furniture is all fromapproximately 1925, and was in the exposition or is quite similar to pieces in the exposition. However, the majority of the item descriptions are in French, most of which I've long since forgotten. So, any French-speaking Deco buffs please chime in with translations!

Jean Dunand wood and painted metal chair

Ruhlmann's Hydravion chairs in leather, very similar to the chairs pictured the the Lord and Taylor room.

Pierre Chareau chair, in velvet with petit point embroidery of woman's torso with floral and shell motifs.

If I were going to have a throne this would be IT!

Black and White images of the Pavilions and furnished interiors can be found at this site.

More furniture eye candy can be found at The Graham Gallery.

If you like any of this, please check out the Art Deco links to the right of the page, including David's Art Deco Buildings site.