29 October 2010

Project: Lamp Making

When I discovered a few years ago how easy it is to re-wire a lamp, I soon progressed to making lamps out of cool objects I found at flea markets and antique shops--like the tripod above (see here for instructions). Since starting my own business, I've created a small collection of one-of-a-kind lamps out of everything from vintage tins to industrial molds. I have two main criteria for deciding if an object will make the transition: I have to be able to drill a hole large enough to fit a lamp pipe and then be able to tighten a nut at the base that doesn't compromise the lamp's balance (or be able to adjust the base to support the hardware and electrical cord). Clear cords are the priciest but they're guaranteed not to be an eyesore. 

Each piece presents its own unique set of challenges, some of which can't be foreseen until the work has started. Sometimes the trickiest part of the project is tracking down a lampshade that complements the base. Most often, I choose simple shades that don't compete with the object base. But I will occasionally recover an existing shade with fabric if I can't find what I want in the marketplace. Joann carries self adhesive lampshades that take the guess work out of that task. Overhead light serves a purpose, but a great lamp serves style and ambiance.

Wood cog.

Wood vase turned upside down.

Vintage wallpaper printing roller.

 Stack of vintage books (drilling holes through paper requires space to make a mess).

A vintage coffee tin.

A wood spool with a metal dry measure shade (requires low-energy bulbs to keep it from over-heating).

23 October 2010

Film Interiors: Addicted to Love

I recently read an article in New York magazine about design team Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of the firm Roman and Williams and was intrigued enough by their old school materials meets modern living aesthetic to re-watch the film Addicted to Love in order to see some of their early work as set designers. The movie turned out to be better than I remembered and the sets did not disappoint. Though its release date was in 1997, the images could be ripped out of today's magazines. 

Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick play jilted lovers Maggie and Sam, who camp out together in an abandoned building to watch their exes Linda and Anton through a camera obscura aimed at Anton's expansive loft. Their envious gaze falls both on the amorous new couple and on the space they share. When the apartment is vacated for a weekend, Sam and Maggie move in and comb each room for clues about who their partners have become in their absence. Though the loft takes center stage, the country house that Sam leaves to pursue Linda has plenty of charm of its own and even the shell of an apartment that Maggie and Sam share has a bit of steampunk appeal that Maggie's inventive wardrobe complements perfectly.

Sam's country home full of fresh flowers in anticipation of a dinner with Linda.

Linda's father arrives instead with a "Dear John" letter. 
The carved mantel is the showpiece of this room.

Decorative plates hang on the wall near an elegant settee.

Anton's workspace employs old metal locker bins for organization.

The neighboring kitchen features a carpenter's bench as an island.

A farmhouse table with mismatched chairs leads to a kitchen full of industrial elements--an old chalkboard, schoolhouse pendant lamps, a drafting chair and factory stool.

A vintage metal hospital cabinet is filled with fresh towels and strikes both a masculine and feminine note in the all-white bathroom.

The following are a few items on the market that channel the essence of Sam's house in Delaware and Anton's New York city loft.

Regency walnut fireplace mantel from Pegaso Gallery Design.

Plate Shelf from Silverfox Originals.

4 piece sofa set by Kai Kristiansen at Arenskjold Antiques Art.

Work bench from Lillian August Designs.

Vintage desk chair from Topsy Design.

Vintage metal locker basket from Haven Vintage.

Vintage medical cabinet from Amsuarezfl.

Film images are property of Warner Bros. Pictures.

10 October 2010


My guess is that the scene in the baggage claim section of any modern-day airport just isn't what it used to be--when folks bought luggage to last a lifetime. After seeing more than one fellow passenger reach for my beige suitcase before I could get to it and then throw it back on the conveyor belt when they realized it wasn't theirs, I've taken to tying an orange ribbon around the handle of my suitcase. 

Well crafted and distinct as many of them were, vintage suitcases wouldn't last a minute under the rigors of twenty first century airport security. Better to leave them at home, stacked in place of coffee and bedside tables or attached to a wall as shelving or display. Old suitcases and trunks are a great way to add storage to a small space while dressing up a room with rich shades of leather and elegant tweeds. No travel necessary to enjoy these abundant flea market finds.

Images: Inside Out magazine, March-April 2009 issue. Contemporary Country by Emily Chalmers with photography by Debi Treloar, published by Ryland, Peters & Small 2006. Country Living magazine, September 2010 issue. Naturally Modern: Creating Interiors with Wood, Stone, Leather, and Natural Fabrics by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Andrew Wood, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2000. Apartment: Stylish Solutions for Apartment Living by Alan Powers with photography by Chris Everard, published by Ryland, Peters & Small 2001.

05 October 2010


Despite my passion for interior design and vintage treasures, I've somehow never given in to collecting groups of one item. I suspect that once I began, I wouldn't know when to stop. Exactly how many straw bags or enamel signs or cooking molds is enough? For me, it's safer to stick to individual items that I respond to and group them together as though they are a family.

Collections seem to spring from a desire to honor a gift that was made by someone we love (grandma's cameo or dad's fishing creel) or from a genuine passion for the pieces themselves and what they represent. A collection that can be displayed in one place, without spilling into every room of the house, is often beautiful and visually arresting. And having something specific in mind when browsing flea markets and antique shops makes the hunt that much more exciting. A collector also makes life much easier on their friends and family when gift-giving season arrives.

Images: Aged to Perfection: Adding Rustic Charm to Your Modern Home Inside & Out by Leslie Linsley, published by Hearst Books 2010. The Way we Live with the Things we Love by Stafford Cliff, photographs by Gilles de Chabaneix, published by Rizzoli 2009. Marie Claire Idees magazine, July 2010 issue. Red magazine, July 2010 issue. Inside Out magazine, March-April 2010 issue.
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