It’s true, and because I feel like arguing today, I’m going to lay out my case for you. You the believer that white is boring, vanilla, without an opinion. Dare I say staid, subtle, without suggestion, or rather you might say, not I, not me, not this one who believes – it is simply a sublime backdrop for the scene of your personal style. Whatever that style might be – you’ll see.
I’ve selected the same clean shaker cabinetry for all three looks. The same hardware and backsplash, and walnut island top that has appeared in earlier iterations of the Willow Bend Scheme Series. I’ve purposefully picked the white cabinetry for its ability to pencil out on a spreadsheet that’s adding up, and a backsplash that you can get at the one buck store. Not exactly, but practically. I’ve invested some dough in the door hardware, and a little more on my lights – good lighting is everything to a gal. Finally I’ve made a little splash with a fabric or a fridge, but honestly there are even less expensive ways to do it. Think a set of dishes in a daring hue, pretty porcelain in a pouty purple, flowers or ferns or decorative urns – whatever floats your boat, let the rainbow be your guide.
White is wonderfully versatile. Like a Chopped competition, I’ve provided the box of basics that you must use, but your personal panache will provide the dash and make the space distinctly you, but if you had to choose, which one would you say was you?
It feels appropriate right now to acknowledge all that we have lost during this pandemic. I’m all for positivity. I love being around positive people, it makes me feel amazing. Throw in a little manifestation, an affirmation or two, some being in the moment and you have the makings of a hot fudge sunday with marshmallow, nuts and a cherry on top of the happiness hill, but NOT acknowledging loss can lead to listlessness or worse, and we can’t have that.
A friend, of a friend, had reached out to me over a year ago to talk about reconfiguring her living room. Then life got in the way, as it is want to do, until so much of this life got in her way that she was finding a classroom, a dog, two kids and a husband underfoot. She hadn’t just lost her work-from-home, make my life easier existence, she’d nearly lost her sanity, and can you blame her?
Elizabeth Bishop and Dorothy Parker, both poets, could wring tears from scorched earth in the Sahara with the prose that spilled forth from their pens, on the subject of loss. At turns brash and edgy, and then slow and sorrowful, they saw what it was to be left wanting – a hunger pain begging to be fed. I suspect many of us are feeling this way and I think I have an answer – we must gravitate toward structure during these times to manage the loss.
Kate, in her wisdom, knew this to be true, and I am happy to help show her some ways in which order can be brought to chaos through reordering her living space, relocating her office, so the kiddos don’t think that “seeing” is believing, that Mommy is available for games, consultation, lunch prep, or an attempt to locate the left sock with the locomotives on it – she’s working.
This pandemic has made me a believer, even the most free and easy among us crave structure. Here are my top three tips:
These beauties will be displayed prominently in the space.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep the furniture that speaks to you in some way – most of the time it can be made to work,
Find ways to store, hide, arrange and organize the little things (bins for legos, blocks and art supplies, files for bills, trays for keys, loose change, and remotes, and baskets for bigger items), also, don’t be afraid to hang it on the wall – that guitar would look great in the kids craft area!
Grab your partner or a friend or two, a bottle of wine and start moving that furniture around the room. Break every rule! Put the sofa in front of the window, the media cabinet “floating” between spaces to create barriers between space uses. If you hate it, move it back – no law.
Take a deep breath. This will end, and if it isn’t ending soon enough for you, I find screaming into my pillow helps. Happy Sunday.
If this dang Corona V is going to have me holed up in the house, I am going to attempt to celebrate the box, both the one I happen to be in Boston, and those that interior designer Windsor Smith minted back in 2010 – a coincidence that her Room in a Box emerged just after the wreckage of our last recession? I think not. Her latest plan to facilitate connectivity, sanctity and community together in a home for the well healed may have to wait, but her 21st Century Fox style video production showcasing her new vision for this architectural template feels anything but boxy.
If you are bougie like me, you’ll need more than one box to stand on just to get a glimpse inside one of Windsor’s mansions. No worries, you’ll be able to spy the likes of her work in the glossy pages of a magazine, or just have Amazon drop a copy of her book – Windsor Smith Homefront: Design for Modern Living, on your porch. After all, you really shouldn’t be out wondering around.
I’m all about the small. Of course, some of this is out of necessity, but honestly the sheer magnitude of these mansions has me thinking about the complexity of the machine that it takes to run a household of that size. From the staff, gardener’s, cleaners, security, stable hands – lordly I can barely keep my refrigerator stocked and it’s just 24″ wide. That’s right, it’s tiny. That’s why the idea of a designer of Ms. Smith’s caliber being accessible to someone like me, is so very exciting. While it isn’t cheap – the service runs somewhere between $4K – $14K per room. I consider almost like a master class. Her process is structured, as it must be, to illicit designs that are tailored to her client’s – without ever having spoken to them. That’s right, she never talks to you directly, it’s all conducted on-line, via questionnaire’s and a custom portal that pushing you along through the process until that little blue box arrives with its diamond of a design inside.
There were many design in a box services that popped up after the crash, when people had no money to hire a designer to “do their house”, the hope was they might spring for a room that was so egregious to them that they’d rather skip lunch for a few months than keep looking at it. When times got good again, many of these services dropped off. I think it’s a shame. If I have to be boxed in, I sure wouldn’t mind some of the airy inspiration of Windsor escaping as I lift the lid.
If Renee Erickson’s Italian Eatery, on full display inside one of Amazon’s four story Sphere’s, located on 6th and Lenora in Seattle’s downtown, has got you wondering why this glass slipper, fairy tale of a restaurant has “ghost” in its name – guess no longer. Miss Ellen Willmott was a Victorian Botanist who must have been a bit presumptuous, as she went around planting the thistle like flower around town, and at the private property of folks she thought would benefit from the beauty. Willmott’s Ghost is indeed a pretty plant, and hearty too, which is welcome in seaside locations where sandy soil, and salt air doesn’t favor the delicate.
When I visited, I hadn’t known that Renee was a renowned Chef. She’s got a little empire of a restaurant group under her fin, and its name Sea Creatures is so stinkin’ cute I can’t stand it.
She doesn’t just have her fingers in the pots on her stove, she’s also the author of a delightful cook book – entitled A Boat, a whale & a Walrus. Stop – just stop, I adore the title and her playful approach to our serious world.
But wait, you didn’t think she’d be done with a mere half a dozen restaurants, and a single cook book – the world opens and expands to welcome the joyous talents of those that put them out into the world. She is also a restaurant designer, though I couldn’t figure out exactly what the connections are, they have to be familial. Heliotrope Architects – Price Erickson designed the space in collaboration with Renee, who is partners with Jeremy Price and Chad Dale on the restaurant design front. While I adore food, design is passion, and Renee and her team have talent in spades.
Pink is such a happy color and to see it in a restaurant, tiling the walls of the open kitchen – a place that is expected to take the wear and tear, the heat and toil of this fast paced, tough and tumble environment, speaks volumes to me about strength and beauty.
I’ve been so consumed by my construction woes that I haven’t paid close attention to the details of the interior. And the details my friends are what makes the difference. It’s just those things that catch the eye of even the least observant of guests, and make the most – swoon, or run screaming from your home. It’s true, to the detail oriented, a gap in the molding, left by a lazy carpenter, can illicit a dull ache in the back of the head, which blossoms over the course of the hour to a full blown migrane. Getting the details right matter.
Beyond those obvious details, it’s the extra effort you take to make something in the home a little bit different than the norm, that captures the most observant visitors attention. No offense to those individuals that are clueless about design and all the wonderful details that go into it, but this isn’t for you.
Mesh, or metal screening materials have both a practical application – it allows for ventilation of things that get hot, like cable boxes, or mechanical equipment that requires air exchange, while hiding those utilitarian necessities that can distract from one’s visual pleasure. Specifically – my visual pleasure. Then comes the aesthetic application – these materials can be incredibly beautiful – for someone that loves pattern, contrast, and visual complexity – they really do the trick.
So you can imagine my chagrin, having awoken from the moldy fog that I’ve been in, to discover that I missed my opportunities to make my kitchen cabinets sing. That’s right – sing. Right now, they are quietly humming, but were I to add one of these amazing screens, they’d be singing like Whitney Houston belting out a ballad.
Now this technique can be applied after the fact, but in fact it cannot be done by someone like me. It requires removing the doors. You need saw horses and clamps, and …. wait for it …. a router. Which apparently makes retrofitting the cabinets “super easy”. That is for someone that already knows how to use a router. I’ve never really fallen into the trap of believing those DIY videos which claim “anyone can do it” – anyone that has been practicing it for decades and happens to have a video crew and an editing room to erase all the mistakes that most certainly can and do get made.
The way I solve this problem is by hiring someone that knows how to do it. You should proceed in any way you feel comfortable.
I am currently reading, or listening via Audible, to The Gig Economy by Diane Mulcahy. I met Diane at dinner a few weeks ago. The invite list was carefully curated to include some seriously successful women – so serious that I thought for a second, what the heck am I doing here. Then I thought well wait a minute, I am going to be a published author of a book entitled: My Life in Sawdust: How to make a million in ten flips, and I have this awesome blog, and I have an incredible full-time job, and flip houses on the side. After that talk with myself it made total sense that I was included on the guest list. Obvi.
Having made Diane’s acquaintance – I learned that The Gig Economy isn’t her only book. She has two others, and she was writing and teaching about The Gig Economy practically before anyone else. Smart. I haven’t gotten to the part of the book yet – if in fact I ever will – where it defines someone like me. I like to think I am one of a kind, and naturally that’s true, but is it unique? I bet not. I bet there are others like me who have a full time job, and a side hack, and maybe do one or two other things that occasionally bring in extra income.
That is after all, what gigging is all about. Financial security through a diversified portfolio of jobs. While I flip on my own, for my own financial gain – the kind that a 401K is never going to give me, and since I don’t have a pension or an inheritance, another source of income is required. In addition to my full time job and the flipping, I periodically write promotional pieces for on-line companies. If I was a real “gigger” I wouldn’t have a full time job, but I like my full time job, and I am constantly working on building new skills. That’s most definitely “gig-like”.
So to Gig or not to Gig – that is the question. Maybe I could just be a “gig-lette”. After all, I do like being first.
Origami that is. West Elm is a company that I admire on so many levels. As a lover of Mid-century Modern furnishings, West Elm’s clean lines and sixties aesthetic appeal. So too does the price point, the on trend colors and their in-house designers that work to put it altogether for you, if you need a nod indicating you’re doing it right – or a whole hand in crafting your next home look.
Ori on display at West Elm’s Fenway location. 160 Brookline Ave. Boston.
There business model, appears to this outsider, to be pretty pliable. Not something I necessarily associate with a big corporation. They team. Teaming is good for business. It puts the community back into the places these stores are located, and small businesses are very important to our economy, not to mention fighting the good fight against homogeneity. It feels pretty special when you walk into the store, meet with local Etsy purveyors, select a painting from an artist to go above the sofa you saved your hard earned doe to get, so you could stop watching tv on the floor atop a pillow. Add to that a signed copy of Erin Gates book, Elements of Style, and you not only have a story to tell friends when you entertain, you’ve personalized it. That’s the magic of West Elm.
Don’t worry, they seem to produce that dust out back somewhere because they have done it again, albeit, in a very different way. This collaboration will be short lived like their Esty pop-ups, so you’ll want to forgo one or two of your fav fall activities to visit the Fenway West Elm store, because Ori – short of Origami – Robotic Furniture has arrived, for a limited time (October 30 . 2018) in store. 160 Brookline Avenue . Boston.
A whole existence in a box.
I’ve written about this MIT Media Lab launched company before – wow that’s a lot of alliteration. Their tag line: “One room . One Hundred Ways” is pretty brilliant, but the fact that you can transform your living room into a bedroom, your bedroom into a study, your study into a walk-in closet, by hollering at Amazon’s Alexa, or if you’re old school, by pushing a button, is AMAZING.
At West Elm . Fenway . Try it for yourself.
Originally only for sale to developers, this limited time offering allows the public – that’s you and me – to get our hands on one. The price point is a bit higher than the developer deal, but in fairness, they are buying in bulk. Full size option at $15,500., Queen at $16,000. Not exactly walking around change, but if you haven’t been tracking, waiting, saving, and hoping (harassing the people at Ori to let you buy one) then you can rent one for $300. a month. Now isn’t that convenient? Designed to snuggle into a 300 – 600SF space, CEO Hasier Larrea (and team) have created something truly brilliant.
345 Harrison . Ori would snuggle in there nicely.
Always willing to try something new, I am considering making my way on down to West Elm and ordering one up to be delivered, right under the gun, to 345 Harrison Ave. a place I am considering for my next home.