Jun 30, 2011

Because Dishwashing Should Be Chic

Not sure where I found this image, but I've had it for years and years.  I open up the file just so I can look at it and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

anyone know the source of this image?

Here's to hoping for big, creative ideas tomorrow.

Set in Stone

All over the countryside New England and much of the Northeast are some of the loveliest and historical stone walls.  Built by early American farm families using stones that heaved up from the subsoil.  The walls were used to pen animal pounds, delineate boundary lines and outline farmland crop sections.
image via WID

via New York Times
via CountrySolitude

via NY Folklore
My husband John and I have been cruising the back country of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts for many years, and I can't tell you how many times I've asked him to stop the car so I can take a picture of a stone wall.  They're all so different and unique, because each one is exceptionally one-of-a-kind.

Boston Post Road via Flickr

The Jason Russel House via Arlington Historical Society
The period from 1775 - 1825 was known as the golden age of stone wall building in the American Northeast. During this era, more stone walls were built than any other period of time. The increase of stone wall construction during this period increased the demand for stones.  And, of course, this was long before stone quarries had rocks available for purchase by the ton.  Farmers had to harvest the stones from their own soil.  And if few stones were present on his land, theft of neighbors' stones was commonplace.  For this reason, I find it so intriguing that there are so many beautiful stone walls still standing today. 

via Flickr
Taking long country drives, finding backgrounds filled with stunning countryscapes is a favorite pasttime of mine.  The best sights are those lined with stone walls.  I even hop out of the car for a photo if one is just too beautiful to pass up...

me at one of our favorite walls in Catskill farm country.  It is covered in overgrown plants and lines the most charming property which faces that happy green barn & silo behind my huge head.

Not all country estates are blessed with stone fencing hundreds of years old.  So many homeowners build stone walls to create barriers between property lines or in place of old, dilapidated walls.

Joan from For the Love of a House (hands down, the best old home renovation blog in my Google Reader!) has shown such impeccably-reported progress of their barn renovation, which included re-building some stone walls as retaining support leading up to their driveway.  See the details here.

now those are some nice stones!  image via For the Love of a House
The poet Robert Frost lived on a farm in Derry, New Hampshire where he wrote "Mending Wall" in 1914, a blank verse poem about the constant rebuilding an old stone wall season after season with his neighbor. 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
At the end of the day, Frost's stone wall neighbor quotes "Good fences make good neighbors." 
Indeed, neighbor. Indeed. 


Jun 28, 2011

Step Right Up

Stairs.  They're often utilitarian in shape, type and purpose.  But when they're done well, or unusually, they become architectural showstoppers.

Innovative staircase design is a forte for certain architectural firms.  Some of the staircases I've shown here are clearly not up to safety code [ahem!], but the creative character is worth noting and enjoying.

via citified.blogspot.com

via ApartmentTherapy

unknown - does anyone know the source of this fab image?

H&G magazine
via moderndesigninterior.com

SMW Design

via curbly.com

Whitney Interior Design

via curbly.com

Elle Decor
via Haven & Home (today!) as seen in Dwell Magazine

do you spy the wall sconces along the handrail?!?!  via thecoolhunter.co.uk

me at the Vatican. via BeattysOverseas

Elle Decor
Elle Decor South Africa

Jun 27, 2011

Magic Carpet Ride ... and cleaning tips!

I was taught that a 'carpet' was a wall-to-wall floor covering while a 'rug' was an area-specific/movable floor covering. But lately I've noticed how much the terms are used interchangeably in the industry.  Apparently the terms are the same in many languages, so the trade industry has long been using carpet/rug to identify either product.

This irks me, doesn't it irk you?  I'm a nitpicker with design vernacular, and it gets under my skin that there isn't a definitive solution to this English-language-terminology problem.  Nevertheless...  I stick to the old-school American terms, and when I'm chatting with a sales person about an ''area rug" while they call it a "throw carpet," we still get business done and my client gets a floor covering. 

Kermanshah "Tree of Life" by Claremont Rug Company
Aman & Carson collection by Stark Carpet
Many people get nervous about rugs when it comes to wear & stains.  Don't be.  If you have quality rugs made from natural fibers you are way better off than synthetics when it comes time to clean.  Wool rugs, especially, are extremely resilient.  If you've got an area rug with a tough stain, send it to a reputable cleaner.  If you have an installed carpet with a major accident, call in the professionals as well.  But if the accident is bad, you should act fast for best results. 

Recently I got an email from a client about a horribly massive RED WINE accident on her oatmeal-colored wool carpet we had installed in her California home about five years ago.  She wrote me and explained...  (BTW, I've omitted the details about the innocent-because-he's-young-and-adorable family member who may have directly-but-accidentally caused this carpet catastrophe.)

I had a large gift basket sitting on an end table in the living room waiting to be put into the car.  I ran into the room when I heard it tipping over.  And, of all the things in that basket to have broken, it was a whole bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon that was smashed and gurgling out onto the floor.  The pretzels and cheese and the pretty dischcloth were fine, but all the broken glass in a 750 ml puddle of red wine was a terrifying sight on my pristine carpet!

Tribal Afghan rug available on Etsy

Color Refom line by ABC Carpet

So, I picked up everything I could, including large pieces of glass.  Then, I cried.  Then, I called some friends of mine who own a commercial carpet cleaning business (I had her cell number!)  So I followed their advice to a T......

I ran to the garage for my wet/dry shop vac.  I took out the paper filter in mine (black & decker), then started vacuuming slowly to get as much as the 'wet' as I could.  I probably spent 15 mins doing that over and over.  Then, I poured a bottle of California Chardonnay (yes, I'm not kidding.  If no white wine is available, skip this step) over the entire stain.  Then I repeated the vacuum step for another 15 mins or more.  Then, I got cool tap water and did the same process in small sections of the spill.  It's very important to suck up all the liquid in each spot to get it as dry as you can.  Then, I got as many white rags and towels as I could find and blotted any remaining dampness.  

Brindle Stripe by Dash & Albert

1880s Agra rug by Beauvais Carpet

Then, I ran to the grocery store and bought $20 worth of kosher salt.  I rushed home and covered the entire area with a thick pile of the salt.  Left it for 24 hours, then swept and vacuumed.

There is still a shadow of a stain, but my carpet cleaning friends are coming on Tuesday to work out the faint shadow-y stain that remains -- my fingers are crossed.

In Aubrey's case, acting fast was paramount to her success with this major stain.  Having access to professionals who gave her such specific and unusual advice (an entire bottle of white wine on top of the red wine stain? Seriously?!?) helped her as well.

Note: there was no seltzer water involved.  And no chemical solvents.  Just a wet vac, white wine, tap water and kosher salt.  Oh, and a ton of elbow grease!

Warp & Weft

Kelly Wearstler for Patterson, Flynn & Martin

The Rug Company

Persian Tabriz rug on eBay

In honor of my wonderful client Aubrey and her grace under pressure during this carpet catastrophe [and the TWO bottles of wine lost to this mess], I'm raising my glass tonight to the carpet professionals out there.  Whether you weave them, import them, or clean them, you are an important part of this industry and your product makes our homes softer, richer and happier.

Go forth, my friends.  Love your carpets.  Live on them and enjoy the textural depth they bring to your rooms.  And if disaster strikes, bring out the white wine. 

Jun 24, 2011

Happy Friday

Towards the end of each week, I get Apartment Therapy's Weekend Sales list in my inbox.  Do you?  It's super helpful for weekend shopping plans!  And I usually run over to their site to see what they're covering a few times a week.  The homepage today shows this image with a blurb about the color combination of pink and yellow.  This living room by designer Liz Caan got me thinking a little bit... 

via Apartment Therapy
Thinking about the impact of a lifesize statue in mid-handstand.  About the charm of a gilded apple as a side tables.  And about exposed beams -- and you know how much I love exposed beams.

Happy Friday everyone.  Let's go do handstands on the hearth.

A Quick Thrift Spin

Earlier this week I was running some errands on the Upper East Side, and went into a few of my go-to thrift haunts.  Housing Works almost always shines in the second-hand store category, and these sightings did not disappoint.  I favor the Housing Works on 77th Street off Third Ave, but have had very good luck at the Grammercy and Chelsea locations, too.

A delightful and versatile rocker bench.  I'd sand it down, paint it a glossy navy and put it in a child's room

An immaculate set of bentwood chairs.  Bentwood chairs!  These are for sale through HW's auction site.

Um, not sure that this is an operable gas mask, but it might be a cool, punk decor accessory in the right room, no?

A huge leather case, in perfectly-worn-and-loved condition. Only catch? The latch was locked shut and the combination unknown.  The photo is shoddy, but it was a beautiful saddle color.
After I left Housing Works -- empty-handed, amazingly! -- I walked to Thriffany on First Ave.  Yes that's such an absurd name but I can't stop thinking about it when I'm in their shop, so at least its catchy.  Their selection is varied but such is the case with most thrift shops.  The thrill of the hunt is most of the fun. 

This pair of portaits caught my eye. 

And by 'catching my eye,' I mean that I wanted to buy insurance from them.

This vintage brass banquet server was cool. 

A huge burlwood dresser.  Marked down to $225, which is crazy, but they'd likely take half that.

And during my walk between Housing Works and Thriffany, I saw this old lady hanging out over her window ledge watching me like a ... wait, that's not an old lady! That's a pit bull!

Only in New York...

All these photos were taken with my crummy Blackberry.  On that note, I'm in the market for a new camera.  A legitimate camera which I will respect & love as the investment that it shall be.  But I know very little about fancy cameras.  What kind of shooter do you use and/or recommend??  I'm anxiously awaiting your ideas & advice!

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