29 June 2010

Art: Making Walls Talk

Wrapped by Tastes Orangey

What makes a person respond to a work of art is as mysterious as what causes two people to fall in love. It's different for everyone and can change with the years, particularly if an attractive exterior is found to be lacking in substance. I have found that the pieces I've been able to live with the longest are those that manage to be both simple and striking. They are the pieces that don't shout to be noticed, but rather beckon to me. And when my eyes pass over them, they are drawn back for another view. These pieces by a handful of Etsy artists are the stuff that classics are made of in my house. The fact that I have zero ability to draw or paint makes me that much more enamored of their work.

Emma No. 2 by No Flying in the House

Baucis by Lisa Chow

Three Generations by Rudolf Kurz

Always by Michele Maule

Stretched across Space by Planet Janet Art

Girl in the Yellow Suit by Kiki and Polly

23 June 2010

Going Global with Maps

Despite a constantly changing global landscape, with boundary lines moving and nations renaming themselves, globes are a classroom staple that have changed very little over the years. Even when barely legible from the effects of time (such as the one above that I sold on Etsy), they are a reminder of where we've been and where we're going. Grouped together, they beckon like toys and few can resist setting them spinning.

Old maps or pages from atlases are a graphic way to remember a favorite place or to earmark a destination yet to be visited. Considering the effort required of the cartographers who charted them, they are works of art worthy of framing and hanging in a prominent location. Yellowed pages from atlases are a subtle way of adding interest to everything from furniture to lighting.

One large map is all that's needed to bring color to this white dining room.

Atlas pages paper the panes of a soft blue wardrobe.

Neighboring atlases form a base to this modern coffee table from Family of Sam.

Taking a page from globe lamps, maps are made translucent as lampshades.

A vintage globe is upcycled into a light pendant from Anecdote Design.

Silk Aviatop Map Cushions from Atelier 688.

Decorative letters from Little White Dog.

Images: Inside Out Magazine Jan-Feb 2009 issue, Christmas 2007 issue, Jan-Feb 2008 issue, May-June 2009 issue; Apartment: Stylish Solutions for Apartment Living by Alan Powers, photography by Chris Everard, published by Ryland Peters & Small, 2001.

13 June 2010

Photography: Vacation Redux

Nothing clears the clutter from my brain like a vacation abroad. It's always a welcome pause from the tiny daily stresses that, like a cloud of humming gnats, gain momentum the closer they travel together. I begin to unwind the moment I settle into my airplane seat, despite the fact that the passenger in front of me has invariably settled into my lap the instant the "Keep seatbelts fastened" light goes out. The first day of my trip reminds me to be patient with myself as I acclimate to the local language/customs/vibe. But once I'm rested and have eased into the newness of a place, the rest is discovery and wonder.

The pictures I've taken on these trips are a reminder not only of the places I've visited, but also of the unburdened state of mind I was in at the time. But not every year is a vacation year. So bringing a few of the standouts out of the photo album, or off the hard drive, and arranging them on a wall is a visual reminder of the good times. I frame a few and attach others to transparent clipboards I found at Target so that I can switch them out periodically.

Some of my favorite photos are those that could not have been planned. A moment presented itself and somehow my camera was at the ready. 

A Parisian roofer took a break from his work six stories high to chat with his girlfriend on his cell phone.

These days you never know who is listening in on your conversation. A statue at the Louvre takes precautions.

Jet Lag can strike anywhere--even on a hard museum bench.

A London flash mob spells out a warning and then disappears into the crowd of shoppers in Harrods.

A little girl at her daycare in Cape Town's Khayelitsha Township.

 I hope these South Africans didn't have a long trip ahead of them--especially the one keeping the window steady.

I happened down an alley in Simon's Town, South Africa, and met with this vision.

11 June 2010

Garden Furniture Invited Indoors

My blog got its name partly from the fact that I am a habitual re-arranger of furniture. In college, I moved my bed to a new wall of my room with each of the season changes. A different apartment for each year of study made for plenty of heavy lifting. When I bought a house five years ago, I experimented with every design configuration possible. My dining room and living room switched places and never lamented their former addresses. My loft master bedroom became an office/studio while the smallest bedroom in the house became my cozy sleeping quarters. Placing a daybed in the kitchen turned a cooking space into a year-round haven thanks to the constant sunshine that poured through a wall of windows. Moving the furniture is a way of rediscovering a space--the equivalent of shopping in your own closet. It's a way of reinventing pieces and broadening their purpose. I'm a big supporter of using pieces in unexpected ways. A pair of aqua French doors that now stands in my shop at The Milkhouse has functioned as a headboard and a desk at one time or another.

In this vein, I see no distinction between indoor and outdoor furniture. I love seeing rusty chairs in a dining room or a concrete bird bath being used as a coffee table. A graying cedar potting bench could easily be made into a bathroom vanity and a wooden ladder can be used to hang towels, magazines or shoes. The dining room table in my house of experimentation (now someone else's cherished abode) was flanked by aqua plastic chairs from Ikea and a pair of vintage metal chairs that had probably done time in an outdoor bistro. The following are a few examples of garden furniture and outdoor elements given the indoor treatment to great effect.

A chippy picnic bench and folding chair make friends with a giant industrial spool table. 

Folding chairs join a farmhouse table in a modern kitchen.

Galvanized metal chairs are paired with a simple workbench in a home office. good
 view isn't necessary in a space this inspiring.

This living room is full of outdoor elements: wire furniture, a vintage metal chair painted aqua, 
birdcages and a porcelain pedestal.

Bamboo chairs and a wicker table. All that's needed is a pitcher of iced tea and good company.

A porch swing and duvet.

Images: Old & New by Katherine Sorrell, Ryland Peters & Small 2007. Apartment: Stylish Solutions for Apartment Living by Alan Powers, photography by Chris Everard, Ryland Peters & Small 2001. The Comforts of Home by Caroline Clifton-Mogg, Ryland Peters & Small 2010. Fresh Home Magazine, Spring 2010 issue. Inside Out Magazine, May/June 2008 issue. Country Living Magazine, photography by David Butler.

06 June 2010

Film Interiors: Penelope

When I'm watching a movie, I pay as much attention to what is taking place behind the actors as what they are saying to each other. I'll watch a mediocre film over and over if the set design has captured my imagination. This is the first in what I hope will be many posts on inspiring film sets. Not satisfied to appreciate the handiwork of talented designers and cinematographers, I will focus on specific elements of the eye candy on screen and suggest places to buy similar items or pieces that invoke the general aesthetic of a space. 

The first film on my agenda is Penelope. This is a modern day fable about an affluent girl living with a family curse that has saddled her with a pig snout (played as beautifully as possible by Christina Ricci). Penelope spends her childhood hidden away in her room, but prejudice and heartache find her there nonetheless. So she ventures out into the world in hopes of making peace with her fate. Along the way she discovers her own worth and the love of a man named Johnny (James McAvoy). There are two spaces that beg to be given the microscope treatment: Penelope's bedroom--which operates more like an apartment because she spends so much of her time in it--and Johnny's loft.

Given her overwhelming solitude, Penelope has created a small wonderland of her own that reflects her passions. She dreams of becoming a horticulturist, which is evident from this army of terrariums on porcelain pedestals and the black paper butterflies on the wall. Because she never leaves the house, she must handcraft all of her artifacts of nature.

Her room is her backyard and playground. Saturated greens and reds accompany her throughout the film--a nod both to her longing for the outdoors and to the overall mood of the film that location manager Pat Karam calls "Victorian Gothic". 

A framed chalkboard captures Penelope's thoughts and sketches. It is one of the elements of her childhood room that remains. What doesn't seem to make the cut into her adult room is an extraordinary industrial desk that is propped on vintage wallpaper printer rolls. Covered as it is in art supplies, I imagine the young Penelope spread out on her hardwood floors with the creative project of the moment and its accompanying supplies camouflaging the floor around her.

Here are a few items from Etsy and beyond that channel some of the fun and whimsy of Penelope's living space.

The Masses Guest Book Butterfly Pack from Jaime Mancilla.

Lovebirds Made-to-Order Birdcage Chandelier from Meggancolleen.

Bell Jar Dome from The Wallflower Company.

Vintage Chalkboard Long White Frame from Revived Vintage.

Tree Swing made of Reclaimed Wood from Peg and Awl.

Vintage Wood and Brass Wallpaper Roll Lamps from Shandell's as seen on Rural Intelligence (left). I made and sold one myself last August at The West End Garage in Cape May (right).

When Penelope leaves the stifling comfort of home and makes her place in the world, she carries her own unique aesthetic with her into her new life as a horticulturist and school teacher.

Terrariums and black cutout paper garlands are perfectly suited to Penelope's classroom. Her school books are color coordinated just as her own books are at home.

A Vintage Pedestal Steel Tanker Desk and Chair from Daily Memorandum would be right at home at her school.

Johnny's loft is a stark contrast to the warmth of Penelope's digs. As a formerly successful musician who has gambled away much of his earnings, his apartment suggests a once thriving creative space that has been slowly stripped of its furnishings so that only a few choice pieces remain.

A few of the standouts: Tripod spotlight lamps, a vintage leather car seat sofa, a simple wood folding tray table  and vintage metal lockers with old suitcases stored on top.

Photographer's Tripod Floor Lamp at Pottery Barn.

Industrial Metal School Locker from Hudson Goods.

Antique Striped Luggage Set from Bright Wall Vintage.

Butler's Tray on Stand from Ernest Johnson Antiques.

(Film images are the property of Summit Entertainment and Stone Village Pictures. Production Designer: Amanda McArthur. Set Decorator: Bridget Menzies.)
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