Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Get a Handle on it

Or trying to get a handle on it, at least. I know--another terrible post title, but the gem "Knobby Need" was already taken. So, I've successfully cooked and washed and hosted and generally survived in my kitchen for about 3 and a half years now. And all without pulls on my kitchen cabinets. I didn't love any pulls when I was getting the cabinets and I like the clean uninterrupted look of plain cabinet doors, so I didn't hesitate to nix the idea of pulls entirely. But now I'm starting to feel the pull...of the pulls. Thanks to an AT-documented condo renovation that used these knobs I've started to feel like I could meet my cabinet pull match. These are some ideas I've been batting around so far:

Michael Aram knob Lowe's (I'm not really sure how this works...)

I have stainless appliances, but I don't want to have giant stainless-looking pulls. I'm thinking of something that's not so attention-grabbing--either with a darker metal that blends a little more with the cabinet or a smaller size. Any thoughts?

It would probably help to post some photos of the kitchen so y'all could weigh in with a little more information, since the kitchen glimpses here and here don't really offer much perspective. I'll get on that soon--if you promise not to judge me for living backsplash-less for 3.5 years.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ironing Out the Laundry Zone

I don't have a laundry room so much as a laundry closet and (much like my actual closet) things can get crammed and inaccessible if I don't have some method of organization. I didn't take a photo prior to these organizational improvements, but I'm sure you can use your imagination to picture the worst scenario possible so these photos seem even better in comparison.

For pantry proximity perspective:

I came into the shoe shelves at various times and put them to use here since my shoes are already housed in this structure. The basket is the same as the kind I use in the pantry. I've been gradually working through duplicate cleaners--you would have seen 25 bottles of various cleaners if you had been unlucky enough to look in here 6 months ago.

The hooks for the ironing board and the drying racks have made a huge difference in appearance and cutting down frustration from digging out tangled dryer racks from the side of the dryer. I air dry pretty much everything besides towels and use the outdoor line for any drying rack overflow or bigger items like sheets or tablecloths. There are hooks specifically made for ironing boards, but I found these in the hardware section and I think the ones for the ironing board were about $2 a piece and the longer hooks I'm using for the drying racks were about $5 each.

Without studs directly behind the hooks, it's a good idea to secure a board to the studs and then screw the hooks into that. Even though these things aren't too heavy, the drywall on its own might not hold up over time to tugging them off the hooks and plopping them back on.

So, the laundry closet isn't stunningly attractive, but it's nicely functional and pretty organized, which almost makes up for the lack of a swanky front loading washer and dryer and a utility sink and counter space. Almost.  Any laundry zone organizational tips? Any success with those cleaning products that "do it all"? I'm still in the process of culling my stash of spray bottles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zip it Good

I was extremely surprised and super excited when after I opened my big Christmas gift from the bf--a LAPTOP! Looking back, I don't know how I survived without one--or a computer, actually, since I just borrowed my sister's and used my phone. Yes, those were dark days.

One my first searches on the new piece di techologie was for laptop covers. Because what good is the portability factor of a laptop if you're afraid to cart it around for fear of it getting damaged? Ok, and there are some cool and stylish looking laptop sleeves and I like shopping for cool and stylish things. Well, the shopping turned into window shopping when I saw prices on some laptop sleeves so I decided to enlist some motherly assistance to make my own! I was thinking I could save some money and I'd be able to pick the exact combination of materials and style of sleeve that I wanted.

I found my inspiration via Pinterest but couldn't find the seller information (why don't some Pinterest users credit their pins appropriately?!). This was the photo I used:

Maybe someone will know the seller and I can credit correctly.

I could have added this to the Mothers' Day post because this was another Super Mom project. Fortunately for me, my birthday follows Christmas, so the project was able to manifest itself as a birthday present for me. Here it is:

I got the materials at my favorite always-an-adventure discount fabric store and showed my Mom the inspiration photo and talked about spacing for the different materials.

Look, she even quilted the interior!

Here are some other handmade laptop sleeve offerings from

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Faded ombre, bright orange, Pendleton wool fabric and fun, bright prints? Yes, please.

I think that some of these could work as cool oversized clutches, too. And since I couldn't pass up some other materials when fabric shopping, maybe there will be a handmade clutch in my future...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bathroom Reflections Follow-Up

Back in this post I gave an overview of the current state of the master bath. Well, nothing has changed permanently, but I did get some mirrors that will add more character above the sinks. Here there are propped up against the existing mirror.

What do you think? (About the new additions, not my inability to take level photos.) I don't want the look to go too rustic (whatever that means), but I think that the midcentury dresser and the simple palette could help the balance. When the mirrors are actually hung they'll sit a bit higher since they'll be above the lip of the counter (which is good because otherwise I won't be able to see the top of my head--oh the perils of height). I'm start thinking of potential changes to the vanity lighting, but I don't foresee any rapid changes in that department, especially since I have no idea what to do!

Any suggestions on lighting? Any cool and inexpensive glass soap pumps that you've seen recently?

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Containers

Ok, it's a slow news day and I'm sharing that I came across another set of glass food storage containers...

The only problem is that they're in museums instead of in my fridge! (at MoMA (photos via MoMA), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art...)

Well, I won't be adding them to these buddies, but I'll add this to my list of items to search for online and through craigslist and garage sales and Goodwill trips! Maybe there's a "knock-off" that's available somewhere?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stop, Drape and Roll

Some exciting changes are in the air in the great room, so in honor of Mothers' Day I'll go ahead and pull back the curtain to reveal.....

wait, did you say pull back the curtain?

Por fin I have some full length curtains that I think add a tremendous amount to the room. And I don't just mean a tremendous amount of privacy--but that's true, too.  Since my amazing mother did all the work on the curtains it seems fitting that I'm posting on Mothers' Day! Thanks, Mom!

I ordered this fabric in pewter and the architrac system from Calico Corners. (Always wait for the sales! You might want to stagger your purchases if you have the time/patience--they have fabric sales at certain times of the year and hardware sales at other times. They also send you coupons. And don't forget that some large sample swatches of fabric can lead to some pretty inexpensive pillows, too.)

My talented and patient Mom skillfully engineered these babies. We talked over various potential style options and I'm really happy with the unfussy, streamlined look she was able to create!

Here's a quick before shot for some comparison (that huge cardboard tube on the floor was holding the architrac):

And an "after" from about the same angle:

I still may paint the portion of the architrac that connects the rod to the wall (you can kind of see one of them around a foot away from the curtains on the left side in the photo above) to make it match that gray wall color, but I'm super excited about what they add to the room right now. I'm also hoping that they'll offer some insulation from the summer heat--I guess I'll find out pretty soon...

They only drawback (hehe) about these curtains is that they almost put these drapes to shame. Eh, I'll chalk it up to different aesthetics.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mirror, Mirror the backyard.

via AT

And here's the (much less styled) backyard mirror in Home Monochromatic Dynamic:

Conveniently, I had a extra mirror hanging around (or not hanging around, actually) that moved cross-country with me (which is funny because it was free, but I still decided to take it) that had just been propped up against walls in various rooms. Also conveniently--there was one of the many decorative sun decorations hanging there, so the nail was already in the wall. (I've been gradually removing the suns, but there's still one left in the backyard.)

For the record, that's not an actual Hans Wegner chair. If I had one, I don't believe I would keep it outside. But it's my favorite outdoor reading nook--shaded, I can set a drink on the side table (normally of the silver hourglass tables from this post), put my feet up and I don't have to get up to plug in the lights when the sun starts to set.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Subbing Out

I have a couple of those ubiquitous white plastic armchairs in my backyard that I never actually purchased since they either were at the house when I moved in or migrated over when someone was clearing out things and I mentioned I needed some outdoor seating. (I guess I kinda of "purchased" them if they were included with the house, but whatever.) I didn't love the look, but they always get used during outdoor get-togethers, so in the backyard they remained.

...until I came across 2 of these metal cafe chairs:

And my outdoor chair situation has now been updated (even though they're a little dirty and I need to clean them...and sweep up the leaves). The plastic chairs will hang out in the garage until my next yard sale.  I purchased the chairs with a little stainless round outdoor table (the seller wouldn't separate the items), so hopefully I can sell the table and contribute to the circle of life craigslist.  

I've been on the lookout for other things--with no deadlines in mind--to replace some less optimal options. Like when I was able to replace some yogurt and Cool Whip containers with containers like these:

A sampling of the Weck containers was part of the thoughtful present included the mug in this post. (I use them for everyday leftovers and I haven't attempted any long-term food preservation projects, but if I start making my own jam, there they are!)

I try to do this for clothes, too--buuuut I'm usually not as successful because I don't always replace items, I add to what I have instead and doing a one-in, at-least-one-out method. But I was recently was able to sub out 2 blazers that were less than optimal (one was a hand-me-down, one was on super sale and their cuts weren't all that flattering or very versatile) for this great buy that rang up as $48 during a Bluefly sale:

I've been hearing about a lot of people doing this with cookware, so maybe that's on the horizon for the future.

Do you replace some things as you go or do without until you find the perfect item? Or a combination of the two? Has anyone else used Cool Whip containers for leftovers?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Out of Left Field: Arc Lamps

Just a little compilation of some arc lamps...

via Domino

I really like the one I have in my great room (seen here and sort of seen here), especially because it offers some centrally located lighting without necessitating a sofa table/end table as a base or requiring me to get a ceiling fan with a light. (The only thing worse than a fan is a fan with a light, right?) Naturally I got it second-hand and not from MoMA, but the original Arco Lamp is pretty great.

The reason I started this random arc lamp perusal is because I came across the beauts shown below on craigslist. If you haven't checked on my Pinterest, I have a "PinCraig" category (it was a late-night creation as girlfriends and I were searching for an affordable and character-filled dining table) where I add photos of cragislist offerings that I think look cool, but wouldn't necessarily work in Home Monochromatic Dynamic. I don't often add pins of items I've wanted to purchase because I'm selfish land don't want any competition. :)

Link to the craigslist ad that I don't endorse in any way because I have no affiliation with the seller(s) is here.

Aren't those cool? Even though I think they'd look awesome on the nightstands flanking my headboard, I'm holding back.

Annnnd I'm still holding back even though I came across this Kelly Wearstler tableau with an identical very similar lamp.

Eek, decisions! Any purchases you've been debating? Score any good deals lately?