Friday, February 26, 2010

Holiday Photo Collage

So I finally got those holiday cards off the wall!  It made for a fun afterschool activity for me and my daughter.  We cut out all the photos, pasted them to some paper to make a collage, and then scanned it into the computer.  Now it's a great desktop image! LJ made her own photo collage of friends and family to hang on her bulletin board too.

My plan is to do this each year and keep a simple archive of family and friends over the years.  (We'll see if I'm this motivated every year?)!  I think it will be fun to have the photos up as new ones come in for the 2010 holiday season... great way to see how all the kids have grown. 

We also cut out the other cards for gift tags...

Is it a snow day for you too?  Do you have any fun indoor activities to share?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interior Design Tool

Here's an eco idea (both environmentally and economically speaking),  instead of buying a stack of magazines to find inspiration for your next home project, go to the Decorpad website.

It's a great resource for seeing lots of interiors in many different styles.  So rather than flipping through countless magazines looking for particular images that might inspire you, go to this site and find ideas that directly relate to your own project.

Here's how I like to use the site... say your thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets (like I do every other day!) but are unsure if you want a bright white kitchen or something richer. Well, you go to Decorpad, pull down where it says 'posts' and select the 'photos' search option, enter in the key words 'white kitchen' and... Voila!  Dozen's of kitchens come up with that criteria. It can be quite helpful to see real examples and you might get some new ideas too.  Have fun with the word combinations...maybe try 'bedroom chandelier'?

I've been contemplating painting our kitchen cabinets a black-charcoal color. It sounds scary but here are some images from Decorpad that make me think I might love it...

McGill Design Group

McGill Design Group

Kristin Cunningham Kitchen

House & Garden

Hmm, this image has me thinking about my next post. Painting your window sashes in a contrasting color... let's discuss!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Useful Hallway

As I was picking up clothes this morning (mom task #1 out of 250) and placing our pjs on the hooks in our hallway, I realized how great it is to have them... and that everyone should!  Usually, you see them in mudrooms for coats, but why not use this organizing idea in other areas of the house. Typically, we hang clothes worn around the house that might get used again, like...pajama bottoms or jeans.  It gives us a place for them that's easily accessible.  And what had been wasted hallway space, now serves a great purpose!

All you need to do this yourself are some pegs that you can get at any hardware store or craft center and a board that is cut to fit.   We used poplar wood since it's great to paint and you can get it at a local lumber yard.  Keep in mind that we located it between a door and a wall so the board is bound at both ends. This makes it feel more integrated with the architecture and creates a designated area for the hanging stuff.

For the sake of  being 'real' (that is my goal on this blog... not just glossy magazine images of perfection), this is typically what it looks like... 

So yes, I have to be mindful and purge the jeans after a while and get the hats in the bin by the front door, etc...  It seems no matter how much storage and organizing tools you have, it takes persistence to keep it looking good. Oh well, at least it gets the stuff off the floor and I can make it presentable when we have company.   Now if I could just get my husband to stop being a Hook Hog (yes, those are his pajamas, jeans, hats, jacket, etc...).

I'm working with someone right now on their own hanging needs.  I found some cools ideas that go with her vintage look.  Time to hit the flea market for some old knobs and distressed lumber!

Where in your house could you make better use of your blank walls!?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snow Architecture

Look at what we discovered in our neighbor's backyard yesterday...

How'd they build that?!

You can check out more cool snow structures at the WebUrbanist.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let's Talk Table Lamps

As I wait for the light fixture over my dining table, I've been thinking about lighting in general...especially now that the days are so short!  Table lamps are an easy and inexpensive way to change the feeling of a space.  When we added this floor lamp from Crate & Barrel, it instantly created a new cozy place to read...

Pockets of low level lighting rather than a glaring overhead ceiling fixture, can give definition to a space and create inviting areas to work, read, and converse. I love this image for that reason. The space is by Candice Olson.

Think about places you might not expect a table lamp. I grew up with a lamp at our kitchen counter where I use to sit and talk to my mom while she cooked. Who knows, maybe the warm feeling made me linger a bit longer and divulge all my teenage secrets?

You might also consider putting a small lamp in the powder room where some low level lighting could make your guests look and feel better when they visit!  Apartment Therapy considered it as well...

And here's another example I found on the Velvet & Linen blog...

After we finished installing my daughter's bookshelves next to her bed (...that endeavor is for another post all together), a small lamp at the window sill was the final touch to make her bed a cozy haven to enjoy all those books.

My grandfather made this lamp with her initials and the pretty pale pink shade came from Target. I should note that it's a fluorescent bulb and we have been slowly switching out all our incandescent bulbs. It has been a bit painful... the color rendition just isn't good enough yet.  But I have found that with the right kind of shade you can warm up the light some and I'm getting use to it. 

So where could you put a lamp to create a whole new atmosphere in your house? 

...then just remember to turn it on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Our first good snowfall of the year got the Marsh's out the door early this morning.  I like to enjoy the snow in a pristine state before 'man and his car' gets it all messed up!  It's amazing how a simple white covering can refine our world to pure sculpture.   Here's some of what we saw on our walk...  

No wonder Ansel Adams loved a good snowy tree.   Even my point and shoot captures some of it's beauty.

I thought this might make a lovely background for a 2010 holiday card...

Snow can even make chainlink look good.

We eventually made it to the playground.  The kids loved the slippery slides... it was our lazy-man sledding!

It's hard to believe I just wrote about planning for spring and outdoor living.  It looks like we've got a long way to go before we'll be hanging out on the lawn enjoying a Corona!

Have a Happy Snow Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Got Cards?

Okay, so it's February... and we still have all our holiday cards hanging up.  I think it's time to move on. 

Does anyone have a good idea of what to do with all the wonderful photos of family and friends?  I use to cut up the generic cards for present tags... but I think grandma might get confused if she got a gift with a random baby picture taped to it?   If I come up with something, I'll let you know.

As much as Martha pains me, her people create some beautiful cards.   I've got a 'thing' for making handmade cards, but it's hard to find the time.   I particularly like ones that have a three dimensional, structured quality...   

I thought about making something like this for my valentine, but then I'd have to figure out what to do with that card too! 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Looking Up

My friend George, a fellow blogger, sent me an inspiring article from The New Yorker  about a female architect in Chigaco that is working on the tallest building ever designed by woman.  Yes, that caught my attention!

I found some more photos on Edward Lifson's blog Hello, Beautiful!, that show the project in its finished state.

And I love the seductive curves in this photo...

Jeanne Gang, the architect that's featured, has an office called Studio Gang in Chicago.   Here is another project from their website that caught my eye.  I appreciate the simplicity, bright airy quality, and the pure composition of lines & geometries.

And there was one quote from the article that spoke to me in how I see architecture...

"Female architects like these share a high interest in modern design combined with a low interest in ideology. They approach design less as an opportunity to demonstrate a set of ideas than as a way of answering a series of questions about the nature of a place, a client, or a function."

These women inspire me to do great things.  Who inspires you in your work?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Get Organized, Baby!"

...I'll never forget when I heard that quote,  I was watching the movie Niagara in Bryant Park under the stars with my future husband and his sister.

Vintage Poster found at Cinema Master Pieces

Marilyn Monroe was on the big screen, completely hysterical and going a little nuts. Her husband busts into the room, takes her by the shoulders (see poster inset for visual) and yells in her face.... "Get organized, baby!"  It was a laugh out loud moment in what was suppose to be a very dramatic scene. It was a totally chauvinistic statement but... it could be applicable to the mentally and physically cluttered areas of one's life!

This leads me to the topic at husbands tool cabinet. It was out of control... doors not shutting, stuff falling out, can't find a thing... you get the point. In the spirit of helping him out, last spring I bought him a tool pouch to go around a bucket so he could carry his tools where he needed them. I thought it would make him feel like a real professional!  Well, it was nicely folded up in a drawer for many many months and finally was pulled out a few weeks ago to start off the new year.

To help in his organization, he laid out all of his hand tools. I was impressed in how complete his set was for an amateur handy man. I thought it was an interesting pic too (except for the fact that his dirty, greasy tools were laying on my nice white comforter)... but hey, I can't fault him for getting organized.

Amazingly enough, all those tools fit in his bucket organizer quite nicely...

So then I was thinking, I need to find something like this for my office supplies!  And what do ya' know, a Mug Boss...

Except it would need to be 5 times as big... maybe I should just get a bucket too.  

Where do you need to Get Organized, Baby?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Outdoor Living...Hoboken Style

A friend of mind forwarded me a great NYTimes article about the jobless plight of many architects right now. 

A lot of us are taking on any small projects we can get during these tough economic times... like the deck design I'm working at the moment. Which has got me thinking about our own backyard....

Yes, it's time to start planning so you can enjoy your outdoor space at the first sign of spring!   It's really an outdoor room, right? Why shouldn't it get just as much attention and design focus as the inside of your home.  Especially for those of us who live in cramped quarters and are lucky enough to have a patch of grass to enjoy. 

When we moved in over 4 years ago (oh my, it's been that long?)... I decided that the plan would be to establish a 'green' base and then we'd add the colorful flowering stuff later.  As you can see from this photo, our greenery is now well established...

This was the set up for our daughter's birthday party last summer.  We had a beautiful day and it is was a wonderful way to get use of our outdoor space.

This is what our backyard looked like when we moved in. 

It was very damp, didn't get much sun, and the permanent configuration wasn't usuable for us.  With kids we wanted a place for them play and to maximize the square footage.  To open it up, we cut down all the bushes, removed the bench and all the pavers.  Here's a shot from almost two years ago.   

What we kept were a few mature rose bushes on the right and some standard stockade fencing... that's about it.  My husband seeded for our patch of grass, which I have to admit I was skeptical about. But hey look at it now... it looks like sod!  We bought new bluestone in a size that we could manage to carry and lay out ourselves.  I'll never forget the morning the big flatbed crane lowered that heavy palette of stone on our front sidewalk... 'We have to carry all this way back there?!'    Another project was installing the horizontal slats at the back fence to promote the climbing greenery.  And lastly we planned to replace the chain link on the left side with a wood fence. 

In a previous post, Outdoor Living...Italian Style, someone commented about their own chainlink.  Well as you can see in this photo, our chainlink has since disappeared thanks to some crazy ivy! 

I actually like the ivy better than another wood wall.  It keeps us more open to our neighbor so the space feels less closed in.  If we were going to do some fencing though I'd want something with a fresh look, like this redwood fence.  I came upon the photo as I was working on the deck project I mentioned earlier.

That's the great thing about architecture and the details,  even small projects can provide for some inspiration!