Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I live here, part two: Bedroom

This is my bedroom. Come on in and take a look!


Art: DIY
Headboard: DIY
Pillows: DIY
Blanket: Target
Lamps: TJ Maxx
Nightstand (left):  Great-Grandma's
Nightstand (right): Thrifted
Paint: Behr's Burnished Clay

 Let's continue the house tour that left off here.
I don't know about you, but I don't just like to see the finished product.
I like to know why people made certain design choices, and how the room came to look the way it did.
If you like that too, let's talk...

Move-In Day
February 2007
July 2007
In February 2007, I painted the bedroom periwinkle before I moved in. That limited my options, so I chose a simple black and white damask motif because I thought it was sophisticated. I made an upholstered headboard, painted the furniture black, and bought a white matelasse bedspread and some black and white throw pillows, and LOVED it. But by 2009, the walls were turning Pepto-Bismol pink, damask was done to death, and it all felt too precious and matchy-matchy. The black and white motif was stifling. I wanted color!

November 2009
In mid-2009 I painted the walls gray. I wanted a neutral background that would allow me to use more color elsewhere. Everyone told me the walls would turn out darker than expected, so I chose Burnished Clay by Behr, a very very light gray. MEH. It's too light. I didn't like it then, and I'm still not thrilled with it. I wish I'd chosen something darker. After painting the walls, I experimented with bright bedding. Nothing struck my fancy because I hated the walls, but I wasn't in the mood to repaint. I waited for inspiration until early 2011. When I found the perfect fabric for my headboard, everything fell into place. Turquoise and mustard? Yes, please! I sewed some matching pillows, made some new art, and voila!

I love these colors. But I wish there was more contrast between the bedding and walls. I'll paint the walls darker gray soon.
I need curtains. I'd like to make navy panels with mustard gold pom-pom trim.
I love what a coat of shiny black paint can do to a thrifted piece of furniture.
Dresser: Craigslist
Mirror: Pier 1
Bookshelves: Target
Chair: Grandma's house :)
Jewelry Box: Bombay Company

Thanks for visiting! It's always a work in progress, but it's fun to live in a three-dimensional collage... right?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yes, you CAN wear an English garden on your earlobes.

On Saturday I hit the flea market at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and came home with a few treasures. These screw-back bone china earrings, inscribed "Made in England," were my favorite find. The colors are so bright, and the petals are so lifelike.

Oh my goodness, I believe that is a genuine NeldaZee hair clip!

Everything has a story, right? A little research showed that the Staffordshire region in England became a center for pottery and porcelain manufacturing in the 17th century because all the requisite materials were available there. Bone china jewelry, like my earrings, was produced there between 1945 - 1960. Notable names include Aynsley China, Cara China, Coalport China, Crown Staffordshire China, Bone China Crafts CO., and Paragon China Co. Look, y'all! I'm citing my source!

They're so pretty, but I suspect screw-back earrings might have been used as torture devices once upon a time, so I'm looking for another way to wear them. They're so fragile that I can't remove the screw-backs without damaging the porcelain, so it's time to get creative. Have you ever used screw-back earrings for something other than their intended purpose? If so, please share!

If you like this look, check out some other English china jewelry on etsy. Some etsy sellers are selling vintage pieces, and others are using old bone china flowers to make new jewelry (making those awful screw-back earrings wearable once again!). These are priced between $8 - $23, and so delicate and sweet...

Friday, August 26, 2011

This lame book could be an awesome movie.

This is what I have to say about Boneshaker by Cherie Priest:

Steampunk is nerdy, but I don't care. I'm drawn in by the images of flying machines, whimsical gadgets, and undersea adventures. It's a subculture firmly rooted in Jules Verne's work, and almost anything with a literary basis attracts my attention. So I wanted to like this book. The premise is excellent: Briar is a thirty-something widowed mother living in an alternate-reality 1880s Seattle. Her late husband's invention led to the release of a toxic gas that turned much of the city's population into zombies, so Briar and her son live in disgrace. A wall around the city keeps the undead horde out. When Briar's son crosses the wall, looking for something that will clear his father's name, Briar follows him in an airship, and... the adventure begins.

I was drawn to Briar. Fantasy genres abound with plucky teenage heroines, but it can be difficult to find interesting adult female protagonists. Most of all, I was impressed by the glowing praise from Scott Westerfeld ("This book is made of irresistible") and Warren Ellis. But. But, but, BUT.

A steampunk adventure story requires frequent and detailed descriptions of the settings, i.e., There were pipes and levers and copper thingies everywhere, and don't forget to put on your goggles! Unfortunately, Priest chose to add descriptive passages at the wrong moments, bringing the action to a screeching halt. There is a TIME and a PLACE to notice the neat stuff stuck to the walls. And when zombies are chasing you, THAT IS NOT THE TIME. The undead are more interesting than walls, yo.

The second problem is that the writing is so distractingly trite that it pulls me out of the story and into snark-land. Lines like "He was dead for no reason at all except that he'd once been alive," and "Briar stopped too--or she would have, if she hadn't already," and "she didn't disturb the disturbing silence," give me flashbacks to Creative Writing 101. I really, really wish I was making up those lines. I'm not. I had more fun laughing at the clunky prose than I did reading the story.

I feel bad for this novel. I want so badly for it to be GOOD, because the premise is so cool. An old-timey Seattle overrun by zombies? FUN! This story is begging to be a movie. A more visual medium would immediately convey the setting, so the pacing and tension wouldn't suffer. When is Boneshaker coming to theaters?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I live here, part one: Dining Room.

I've lived in my place for four years, and I've finally accepted that it will always be a work in progress. I love painting, upholstering, and making a mess WAY too much to ever finish. Trying to make a beautiful home on a grad student budget isn't easy, but it's stoked my creativity and forced me to learn how to do things myself. At this point I'm happy with the way my home looks, and you're invited to see it. First stop: Dining Room. Come on in. There's tea!

Paint: Merlot by Benjamin Moore
Wall Unit: Craigslist
Rug: Brentwood Interiors
Table: Heywood Wakefield, thrifted
Chairs: Thrifted at Pre to Post Modern and reupholstered by me
Vase: 3Guns Vase by Suck UK

Heywood Wakefield tabletops have a soft glow.

This is what the chairs looked like BEFORE I reupholstered them. GAG: Earth-tone striped corduroy decorated with someone else's food stains and unraveling at the edges. This was NOT acceptable. I recovered them with a clearance bin remnant of heavy blue velvet. Apartment Therapy dug it.

This area is so small and  functional that it has no theme. When I walk into my place, this is the first thing I see. So I want it to be warm, inviting, and NOT a place to collect clutter. Except I had to move a pile of junk mail out of the way to take these pictures. FULL DISCLOSURE, Y'ALL!

I love the tabletop, but I'm not thrilled with the shape of the table legs. They're more country style than I would like. I painted them black to make them less prominent. Eventually, I'd like to replace this table with a white Saarinen tulip style table. But design issues in other areas of the house are a higher priority now.

I move the small accessories around on a regular basis, and I have a few favorite pieces of art that I switch out periodically to keep things fresh. I love the way white objects look against a solid dark or bright background; that is a key part of my aesthetic. So I'm especially partial to white teapots and pitchers and the 3Guns Vase by Suck UK, which was a gift from my sister. I don't get sick of them. Ever. But they never stay in the same place for long. Do you move your small decorative items around a lot? 

(Please say yes, please say yes, tell me I'm not crazy...)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alfons Mucha is neat.

I've been on a painting binge! Last week I mailed my newest painting to my sister in Hong Kong. Now that she's received it, I can share it with you. This project was a copy of Alfons Mucha's work.

Yes, I clipped it to the easel with a hair claw. Don't judge.

Alfons Mucha painted in the Art Nouveau style, and his work usually features fancy ladies with swirling hair festooned with flowers, diaphanous dresses, and dramatic poses. I love Mucha's work, but I also like simpler lines. Since Mucha's work is now in the public domain, I can copy it and change it to my liking, with no legal or ethical issues. So can you. And the art police aren't going to come take us away!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beatrice & Virgil is somehow less than the sum of its parts.

 If you want to know what Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel (author of Life of Pi) is about, this sums it up:

 But I don't think Beatrice & Virgil is about what it is about.
It's about the way the book makes you feel.
And what it feels like to read Beatrice & Virgil is something else entirely.
It could've been something wonderful, but I suspect this book was ruined by a publishing deadline.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Head cases! I mean... vases.

Sonia noticed the small head in the vignette atop my media cabinet. What is that thing?!

See The Deluxe Transitive Vampire? This is the funniest grammar book in the world because it employs examples like this: "The sandman, in cahoots with the vampire, lays the subject to rest" (infinitive phrase used as adverb)
And a bunch of weird stuff about disgraced debutantes, clandestine midnight meetings at the gazebo, and lamias. Yay!

A doll head? A weird teacup and saucer? No, it's a very small planter made by clayflower22 at etsy. My dear sister gave me a trio of these for Christmas last year. This little lady watches Twin Peaks with me, while the other two keep each other company in my dining area. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never used them as planters, but I love them anyway. Their white porcelain faces pop beautifully against bright walls or the dark wood of a bookcase. When creating a tabletop vignette with objects of varying size, I always add one of these.

The Clayflower22 shop was the first etsy store that moved me. I first saw it in 2006, and her work is so unique, I couldn't forget it. Clayflower22 makes planters that look like doll heads, fancy ladies, and eerie hybrids of babies and animals. One planter features a lady's head atop a chicken's body. It's unsettling, but there is just something about it. The hybrids are strange, but they would be perfectly at home in a cabinet of curiosities. Hmm. Time to start curating a cabinet of curiosities.

You've got to see these!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Favorite things: Vintage Couroc serving trays

While I watch Mad Men and Twin Peaks, this vignette stands atop my media cabinet. It has so much awesomeness: Dinosaur bones! The Eiffel tower! Books! And a vintage Couroc serving tray!

Dinosaurs are such divas. Let's get a better look at that tray.

I can't find much info about this particular design; someone with a Flickr dedicated to Couroc calls this
"San Francisco Cable Car by Couroc" and says it is an early example of the company's work.

My aesthetic isn't easy to describe. If there existed a bizarre version of shabby chic in which mid-century Danish modern furniture was painted black, placed in a room with neutral walls, jazzed up with textiles and art in jewel tones, and accented with plants, lab glassware, scientific curiosities, and small objets d'art featuring bold black and white graphics, THAT IS MY LOOK. Try describing that to the helpful salesfolks at Jennifer Convertibles! So it's hard to describe what I like, but I know I like the simple lines and bold contrast of Couroc. In early 2007 I was researching mid-century design because I wanted to do my new home up all spiffy-like, and I accidentally stumbled upon Couroc on eBay. It's been love ever since!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

etsy test drive: wooden45

Are you reluctant to make your first etsy purchase?
I'll take etsy for a test drive, and share the results!

I live in Nashville, and this means I go to shows. Crowded, crowded shows. Lots of them. In a perfect world, I'd serenely glide like Grace Kelly though crowded public places. In reality, I do a weird hulking sideways walk-and-bump, one arm wrapped around my purse, trying to prevent it from smacking people. My bag isn't HUGE, but it's big enough to get in the way as I weave through a crowd. I try to carry bags that are proportional to my short, curvy frame. Does this purse make me look fat? I don't care anymore! Just give me something that doesn't make me do the walk-and-bump. It's time for a wristlet.

Dinosaurs love wristlets... And red rose hairpieces from NeldaZee!
Honestly, I mostly chose this wristlet from wooden45 because I'm cheap, and she is currently offering a 15% off coupon code (SUMMER15) that made the item just $11.25, including shipping. She is also offering a 10% discount to bloggers who link to her shop... too bad I didn't notice that before I ordered! When shopping on etsy, read the seller's info carefully to see if coupon codes are offered, and keep a close eye on shipping fees. I see lots of cute, cheap items being shipped from Asia... which causes the shipping fee to be astronomical.

Another thing I Iike about wooden45 is that she lists the designers and names of all the fabrics that she uses, making it easy for you to shop for items made in your favorite prints. So if the recent fabric design review made you crave something by Anna Maria Horner, here you go!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to rip off the old masters

Last week's headboard tutorial generated another question: What is that art hanging above your bed? Thanks for noticing...  I made it! I love classic renaissance, pre-Raphaelite, and art Nouveau paintings, but many of them don't match the rest of my decor. So I created my own paint-by-number templates, using Bottlicelli's Birth of Venus as inspiration, and updated Botticelli's classic works.

Are you asking, "How did she do that?" No worries! I'll tell you.
  Photoshop and acrylic paint are your friends.
It's seriously not that hard. You can do it while watching Twin Peaks.

The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

A hurricane in a skirt named Miss Acacia, a pet hamster with a very naughty name, tiny bottles filled with one's own tears, and a cameo appearance from Jack the Ripper... What's not to like?!

In Mathias Malzieu's "The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart," Jack's life depends on a clock installed in his chest. But Jack must be careful, because anger or love will break his fragile heart. Despite this danger, he journeys from Edinburgh to Andalusia in search of his beloved Miss Acacia.

This is a easy but surprisingly emotional read. Malzieu paints delightfully gorgeous and grotesque pictures with words, and his lush imagery leaves me hungry for more of his pretty words. Jack's unwavering adoration of Miss Acacia is so fairy-tale perfect that it is rather uninteresting, but Malzieu's lustrous images and amusing supporting characters make up for the dull romance. I love journeying with Jack through laboratories filled with small mysterious bottles, a twinkling 19th century Andalusian circus, and a ghost train decorated with bones dragged up from the catacombs.

Tim Burton fans will especially love the mix of frightening and romantic imagery. "The Mechanics of the Heart," an animated film based on the book, will be released in France in October 2011. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pretty things are pretty.

Yesterday's post generated a few questions. The first: Where did that fabric come from?!

OK, let's talk fabric. Yay! I'm so glad you asked. There are two fabric designers I love so much that I regularly check for their newest releases, because their work is often released in short runs and then is so hard to find, grr.

Heather Ross creates whimsical, sweet patterns with waifish mermaids, tiny snails, and--best of all--fairy tale characters. Her Far Far Away collections are so special. Here is a taste of her work...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

etsy test drive: ThePattyPanShop

Are you afraid to make your first etsy purchase?
I'll take etsy for a test drive, and share the results!

I took my lunch to work in a paper Maggiano's takeout bag for more than a year before a coworker commented, "You must REALLY love Maggiano's, hmm?" Um...*Cue embarrassed laugh.*  

So I bought an insulated lunch bag and placemat from ThePattyPanShop. A year and a half later, after MANY trips through the spin cycle, the bag still looks good, and I am very satisfied with my purchase.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Drinking Etiquette: For Those Who Drink and Those Who Don't!

This little gem came in through the bookdrop at work a few years ago, and I've been gleefully hoarding it ever since. It's a government pamphlet meant to--I kid you not--encourage social drinking. (Re)printed by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, & Welfare in 1976, the aim was to help people "preserve the enjoyment of social drinking situations while eliminating much of the pain that is produced by unwise drinking." That's great, but LOOK! Look at the cartoonish partygoers and their cute little gin blossoms, awwww!