Monday, November 30, 2009

Internet of Natural Curiosities

After looking at images in Cabinet of Natural Curiosities --

pictures like this one --

I've realized how much I love rooms that have natural elements in them, whether it's a wooden lamp

Simplicity Lamp from Anthropologie

or a giant crinkly leather chair.

French Leather Wing Chair from Restoration Hardware

I like that the chair and lamp are natural materials in elegant shapes. And then, there's the opposite -- more refined materials in natural shapes and form.

I like branches
Candlesticks from the Michael Aram Bark Collection

and flowers (functional ...

Lotus Nesting Bowls from Koo de Kir
... or not).
Gold Leafed Lily Stem from Mothology

I like rustic-looking side tables

and details for a dining room table

Porcelain Branch Pitcher from Shoestring Home

This light shade is only $28!

Wire Flower Shade from Urban Outfitters

And, finally, here's a room with coral wallpaper that looks like it could have been copied off the cover of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.

Note how the shells in the basket and the table legs look like branches.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen

A lot of old houses in New England have something I love: A fireplace in the kitchen.

I like the warm colors in this picture, but if it were my room, I'd put a more comfortable chair in front of the fire.

This one looks 1) really old and 2) like it would heat the whole kitchen. I think I would be tempted to make s'mores.

This one looks like a bakery. Imagine snow outside the window instead of leafy, summary greens.

Newer houses don't often have fireplaces in the kitchen (at least, not the ones I've seen on Trulia and in other listings.) I wonder why.

But, at first glance, this kitchen below looks like it might have a fireplace in it. It definitely looks warm. Maybe it's the antlers hanging over the range?

Here's another picture of a kitchen/dining room that looks like it might have a fireplace in it (and I don't know, maybe this room does have one on the other side of the table). In this case, it's the slipcovered arm chairs that make me think of fires and other warm thoughts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving miracle

I love the family Thanksgiving tradition of drinking Bloody Marys while we wait for dinner to be ready.

Thanksgiving 2008

Here's the recipe, in case you want to join the fun:

48 oz V-8 Juice
1/4 cup horseradish
10-20 Tabasco -- start with 10, and add more to taste
12 oz. Heinz Seafood Cocktail Sauce
1/4 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

Mix all together. Use celery sticks as garnish ... and jumbo green olives, too!

When Cousin Adam is the bartender, he mixes up a blend of spices to put on the rim of the glass.
He uses Old Bay seasoning or celery salt, and recommends trying the Old Bay "if you feel like rockin' out." And his suggestions for possible garnishes are a tad better than mine: shrimp, sour pickles, lemon, lime, and/or blue cheese stuffed olives.

Before the drinking begins, I'll be filling this with apples and cinnamon and other good ingredients.

And while the pie is baking, I might go for a walk to take in some of this:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hot chocolate decorating

When it comes to winter, I like my rooms like I like my hot chocolate: Warm, cozy and in various shades of brown and cream.

Hot chocolate with cinnamon sticks:

Hot chocolate with freeze-dried marshmallows:

Steamed milk with vanilla flavoring. Not technically hot chocolate, but they're related:

And the grand finale - hot chocolate made with ghirardelli and topped with whipped cream:

While we're on the topic, would you believe that I drank hot chocolate from a mug just like this for my entire childhood and never even knew what was going on?

I think my parents' version was bears, though. I had friends whose parents had mugs from the same "collection," and I was always sure to point out the coincidence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I did it!

I painted giant black rectangle on my kitchen wall, and framed it with trim I bought at Lowe's and painted a dark gray.

Despite how the picture looks, the rectangle is not crooked. There are plenty of other (minor, I hope) flaws in the wall, but that is not one of them.

Here is a close-up of the frame:

And here you see the new chalkboard posing with my great-grandma's chopping bowl. We don't use it as a chopping bowl anymore. It's more of a mail/rubber band collector that I try to keep empty but it never seems to stay that way.

This is what I learned from this weekend's chalkboard adventure:

1) If you don't have painter's tape, electrical tape may not be the best substitute. It's pretty stretchy, and is not easy to get straight.

2) Cutting a 45-degree angle is really hard!

3) Cutting edges to be the same length is not too easy, either.

4) But that's OK, because it's pretty hard to get a perfect rectangle on the wall.

5) If you find yourself whispering, "it is what it is," as you near completion of your DIY project, it is a pretty good indication that some (or most?) things did not go exactly as planned.

6) Most project flaws are best kept a secret.

And here's the closing image, just because I like the giant bright space with the huge chalkboard wall. Painting an entire wall is one way to avoid that nasty task of painting a rectangle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday (un)Focus: DIY projects and chalkboard paint

I'm bookmarking this list of DIY ideas from Young House Love.

I like the industrial clips hung on tiny nails:

And the window covered with chalkboard paint:

Speaking of chalkboard paint ... Lately I've been tempted to use it to paint a big rectangle over the table in our kitchen. No frames or anything, so basically just a black rectangle on the creamy white walls. The idea loses its luster a bit when I think about what we'd actually write on the board. This is what the space currently looks like, except I've relocated the ship picture to its permanent place on the wall in the hallway.

Here are a couple pictures I pulled as examples. Truthfully, chalkboard paint is pretty trendy right now. But we could paint over it whenever we got tired of it.

Bleh, look at that red wall in the background and guess my thoughts on that beauty. I actually don't like that second photo much at all, except for the drawing (does Marc have that kind of talent?) and the shiny clock mounted on the blackboard.

So, what do you think? Paint or not paint? Besides the fact that it would be easy to paint over when we get tired of it (or move -- whichever comes first), another plus is that I've been looking for something big to hang on that wall for a while. I need it to be cheap, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yo, I'll tell you what I want - to go shopping in England!

Wow! Thanks to everyone who commented and left their thoughts on whether captions should be above or below photos. Who knew there were so many passionate opinions on this topic?

I picked up a copy of the Good Homes November 2009 issue before I left for my trip on Monday. It's printed in the UK, and I think it's fun to see what differences there are in decor.

A picture of a beautiful measuring cup led me to Sainsbury's website, and let me just say this: No fair! Why do the British get everything? Seriously, the kitchen gadgets on that website are amazingly different and appealing.

Look at this blender:

This kitchen scale take my breath away:
The bowl part must twist off, right? Otherwise it's useless. You know, I'd probably try to order this if it weren't for the fact that all those little numbers on the bottom are measuring units that are as meaningless to me as temperatures in celsius or references to Bella and Edward's relationship in Twilight, because sorry - I've opted out of that one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Slipcover extravaganza

Today's post is in recognition of the slipcovers that are taking shape under my very own roof.

1. The slipcovers on these chairs have ruffles, which make them even better.

2. More ruffles! This time available for purchase.

3. For the grand finale, here is Joni at Cote de Texas' dissertation on slipcovers, from a post on her favorite design elements. Slipcovers are No. 2.

As a side note, I can't decide what makes for easier blog reading - captions above or below the photos. Which do you prefer? Maybe this type of consistency does not matter, but AP Style habits die hard.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Slipcovered armchairs, part I

I inherited two arm chairs from my aunt and uncle. Their heyday passed many years ago, but the shape and quality of the chairs is good.

One was a blue courderoy, which has faded to purple, and the other is cream colored. The cream chair is disgusting - the fabric is not in good condition at all. It has spent the past five years hidden under a blanket, looking kind of like it belongs in a fraternity house.

This weekend, I set out to do what I've been waiting a long time for: Slipcover the chairs. There's no way I could fix the seat cushions on my own (they're made out of latex, which was soft and squishy in the 1970s when the chairs were new. Now they are decomposing and are rock-hard). So, I loaded them into the car and went down the road to Freddy Farkel's.

OMG, it was amazing! I lingered in all the aisles, but found the fabric of my dreams in the warehouse aisle ... for $2/yard!! I dropped the cushions off for their reupholsterer to cover and freshen, but I'm attempting to make the slipcovers for the bodies of the chairs on my own.

The blue fabric is for the chairs, and the color crewelwork piece is a sample I picked up from the scrap bin. It will be cut into two, for two cute little pillows for the updated chairs.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sun and style. Montana has it all.

Fact: Montana has an average of 320 days of sunshine a year. I don't know how many Boston has, but I know it's less than that. A lot less.

And do you know what else Montana has? Beautiful, spacious homes that are priced very pleasantly. I search Trulia every so often just to see what's on the market, and I was more than happy to find this cute house in Bozeman. There are also more pictures here.

It was built in 1900, so it's old. Score: 1 That score pretty much goes up 10 points with each picture. This looks like the home of an Anthropologie stylist, don't you think?

The front porch definitely has a Montana vibe to it.

The living room/dining area is bright and cheerful. It looks like it gets plenty of sunlight.

Here's another look at the area by the couch. I like that the rug is Western, but not much else in the room is. It keeps it from feeling too themed or heavy.

The greyish-green cabinets in the cupboard really fit with the feel of the house - it looks old, but in a good way. The Sub-Zero makes it pretty clear that the kitchen is not at all outdated.

It is a pretty small kitchen, but then again, it's an old house. It really looks cozy in there ... the brick wall looks great with the color of the cabinets, and the glass pendants are unobtrusive and clean looking.

It kind of looks like this bedroom is on the ground level. What style is this - Montana zen? I like it!

Here's another bedroom, again with a green door and trim. This house really flows nicely. Each room is different, but it's very cohesive. I like the bright bedspread in this picture.

This bathroom is so cool! There's a lot of white, which I love, but it still uses the trademark green. And I love the rug layered under the towels. I always get annoyed when the towels look so skimpy hanging side-by-side on the rod. The rug totally eliminates that problem! I think I'm going to try it out in my own bathroom, with an Ikea rug. Will the rugged Montana style work in Cambridge? We shall see.

I don't even like baths, but I want to take a soak in that tub.

I think this room is in the attic. Isn't it amazing? The chandelier, the white-washed paneled walls, the red chair and yellow rug ... Even the little girl's artwork looks professionally styled.

And here's the white-washed bathroom to match. The sea grass rug warms up the space.

And, finally, here's the backyard. It looks a little neglected in comparison to the rest of the house, but I guess these people had no reason to ever go outside.

If you haven't clicked on the listing yet, I'll tell you what this house is listed for: $698,000. Not bad for 4,190 square feet!

This is definitely one of the best houses I've seen listed online. Isn't it fun when you stumble across something like this?