Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Polished Concrete Floors

When we bought our 1960's rancher, I admit that I was anxious to preserve many of the period quirks that had remained untouched by the previous owners. I'd even venture to say that renovation plans were at times even a bit near sighted in the quest to achieve the rambling poolside vintage ranch house of our my dreams (The Mister really has been sweet to let me live out this fantasy). The mod rod iron screens that once divided up the living room and double doors that had separated off the entry-way from the kitchen were two elements that initially took a bit of convincing to part with.  Eventually, I had to come to terms with the idea that just because they were original, it did not render them a good fit for our lifestyle or decorating sensibility, which was slowly edging away from mid-century modern to well... more modern.  Over the past three years, I've been learning to let go of other original to the house features that are just not a good fit for us. Case in point, the avocado green entryway tile.

I had sheepishly shared a snippet or two of the tile in a previous post. While it has remained in part due to the nostalgia that goes with it, I'd be remiss in not admitting that financially it was something we told ourselves we could just live with for a while until we had budget to redo it properly.

There were times when I kicked myself over the decision to leave it intact rather than include it when we replaced the floors elsewhere. I have to say though, it's also held up well as we tracked dirt and dust inside while working on other areas of the house.  Still, I can't help but think that a polished concrete entryway might just be the best fit for this old house (and our leaner budget) in the long run.  But lest I think we'd be relegated to a budget solution of bare concrete, it's reassuring to know that we still might have a few economical, yet stylistic options to customize and polish up our modernized entryway.

Design: YLAB Architectos / Photo: Jordi Canosa / Via:  Design Milk
 Whitewashed and polished. Big on style. Short on practicality. I love this look, but it might be a bit too high-brow for us. After all, we are dog-loving, yard-working, on-the-go, entertainers and our entry-way must stand up to our open door policy around these parts.

Table Mountain Creative
Brightly tinted. I'm a little in love with the thought of guests being greeted to a pop of color as our door opens. But I also know that I'm a fickle decorator. It's pretty likely that the romance will quickly fade.

Featured: Elle Decoration (Swedish ed.) // Photo: Petra Bindel // Via:  Solid Frog
Dark, scuffed and moody. The dark cast to this concrete finish would hold up well to traffic, but might be too lackluster for the breezy, welcoming impression we'd want to make in our home's entrance.

Collected Interiors
Light, warm and airy. The golden tones in this finish keep the look from growing too cold. They would also play well with the crushed granite in the planters right outside the door. 

Featured: Family Living // Photo: Jenny Brandt // Via: Emmas Designblogg
A low-sheen, matte finish. I like the low-maintenance, minimalistic look of a no-shine finish. Perhaps it's a bit too rustic though to play nicely with what we already have going on in the house. In another life maybe... 

Photo: Kailey J Flynn Photography // Via: Houzz
High gloss. It's  not the aggregate terrazzo tile in my vintage dreams. But, this sleek finish almost gives the impression of a finer polished stone at a fraction of the cost. We might have to put in a little more elbow grease, but few things make me happier than a high end looking result for very little cost.

*Intro image: St├ęphane Quatresous of Atelier 154 // Photo: Mads Mogensen // Via: French by Design

Monday, July 29, 2013

Make This // DIY Low Rise Picnic Table

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been making an effort to get out more during weekday evenings. One of my favorite weeknight activities of late: hitting up our local Concert in the Park series. But let's be honest- picnicking comfortably takes some planning and finesse. The first couple of outings were hit and miss. We might have even had a few spills on the blanket while trying to balance full plates and cups. But last week, I came up with a quick and inexpensive solution by way of a few store bought supplies and a few I already had on hand. 

The idea was to make a small, low-rise table where at the very least, we could sit our drinks down without fear of spilling. I initially envisioned a larger tabletop, but in the interest of using what I already had on hand in the garage, I happily landed on a lightweight, portable table that could easily be carried under arm for the hike to the park. 

Here's what I used to pull this portable pretty together:

  • ROUND WOOD TOP //  I used a pre-painted, laminated top I had leftover from a previous event. But you can pick an unfinished one up and stain it or deck it out with a little paint just the way you want. 
  • BUN FEET // These can get pricey, but Home Depot has an inexpensive selection that already had a built in screw top.
  • SPRAY PAINT // I sprayed the legs gold with my favorite gold spray paint. But use what you have around the house and keep costs low for this occasional use table. 
  • ACRYLIC CRAFT PAINT // I dug into my stash of acrylic paint and gave the legs a little splash of color. Keep it simple-solid or go all out with a colorful design.

I drilled four holes half-way into the bottom of my top and began screwing the legs right in. They attached rather easily and securely, though if you want to step up your game, there are also top plates you can use to screw in your legs. 

I was pretty pleased with this little table and took it out on our last park outing. I got to thinking that this project could be easily adapted to make a small footstool or even a wider table using the various assortment of bun feet and project wood on hand at your local hardware supply store.  As for me, when I'm not making good use of it at the park, I think I'll up-cycle it for food display use at my next party - perhaps even elevate a birthday cake housed under a glass dome.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Current Fixation // Campaign Style Director's Chairs

From time to time I get 'fixed' on an idea, a burst of inspiration to make something happen around the house that I just can't shake. In the end, I may decide to go in another direction altogether. But until I exhaust the thought completely through research, trial or even in some cases, until a better idea comes along, these are the things that tend to consume every waking thought. So it is at the moment with stools for our counter-height dining table.

We've held off on purchasing the barstools we'd originally planned for, as decorating dollars have been largely spent on the outdoors this season. As a result, we still have an entire room without any furniture in the house and a table top waiting to be set upon it's legs. The legs are in the works. But the delay in purchasing the chairs lead me to rethink the style of the original stools altogether (you see what happens...). At the moment, I'm currently fixed on incorporating some campaign style director's chairs around the table.  

When it comes to this type of chair, there really are so many colors, styles and price ranges to select from. I've been focused on finding an affordable style with cleaner lines than you might see in your typical budget version, perhaps in a walnut stain- though a natural stain would be a nice contrast to the mostly darker wood found in our adjacent living area.  

One atypical detail that has me particularly transfixed are the partial slipcovers I've seen in images like those above. I've not yet come across a version that has these already installed, but I'm pretty confident I could pull something similar together on my own.  I think it'd be a simple way to polish up a less expensive version. If I go this route, I'll also be looking for a plain white, linen type fabric that could be easily washed in the event of a spill. The softness of the linen would be a nice upgrade to the traditional canvas covers and would make long gatherings around the table even more comfortable.

To my delight, I was able to find an example of a high-top table paired with director's chairs and even narrowed down some attractive and affordable high rise options below.

 Perhaps this little daydream just might happen yet and at a much lighter hit to the pocket book, a happy consequence to all that patient waiting.

image credits: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 (unknown) // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3 {Playful} Things I Want to Make Right Now

I'm feeling particularly playful these days. Maybe it's all the time I've taken lately to relax and just soak up the summer sun each weekend instead of my usual go-go-go routine. But this new pattern has definitely become clear to me. I'm finding myself drawn to bold colors, games and objects clearly meant for fun. You know, it's also funny what a little downtime can do to get the creative juices flowing again. Going into the summer season, I was pretty spent and not feeling very inspired to make, nor write. But those inclinations are slowly percolating back to me and I thought I'd parlay the playful mood I'm in to share three very colorful, frivolous things I really want to make right now.

These DIY Drum Sets created by Elsie + Emma of A Beautiful Mess are the perfect play on color, fun and design. I'm thinking these would be the perfect make ahead holiday gift. 

Over the weekend, I picked up a handful of plastic animals at my local flea market. I think they are destined for these kitschy animal pin cushions found over at Small Good Things

I've had tassels, tassels, tassels on the brain of late and I can't think of a better plan than to pile a bunch of them onto a simple white pillow. I can picture pillows like these from Anthropologie propped up on my nieces' beds. I think I'll whip up a couple of my own.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Banago // Handmade, With Love

I've rarely met a graphic patterned handbag I didn't like. I think that's what initially drew me to the Banago woven clutches I recently discovered. The bold stripes, greek key and zig zags in electric hues certainly commanded attention, though old habits die hard and if I'm being truthful with you all, it was the black designs woven into the natural background that I took notice of first. But a little research into the handbag maker produced yet another reason to fall in love with them and I most certainly did.

It's no wonder that visitors to the website are introduced to the story first. A beautifully shot video plays on the homepage, transporting you to the islands where Banago handbags are handmade by craftspeople who have mastered their art. You meet the founder, Renee Patron and instantly understand what she envisioned when she set out to bring a piece of her family's culture to the rest of the world. I immediately got the feeling that it really wasn't about the product, but rather it was the place itself and the people who mean so much to her that she wanted the world to know about. The handbags are just the vehicle. 

The cultural foundations, the ties to a place and time where people still live connected to their craft and handed down traditions, working side by side for the benefit of all, these are the real reasons to love Banago. The gorgeous patterns are just a bonus.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a little siesta today and visit the website for the short 4 minute video. It's lovely and a good reminder of things that matter. 

All images from the Banago website. Island images by Ito for Banago.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Travel Bound // Essentials + Little Luxuries

I've always had a bit of a wanderer's heart. I can even remember feeling the desire to get out and travel from some of my earliest memories. In grade school, I used to busy myself by penning little travel adventure books. My main character: Snoopy of all things. But in my mind's eye, that Snoopy went everywhere- London, Egypt, San Francisco- places I had not yet visited, but only heard about. True story (and note to self: hunt those suckers down for a good laugh). 

For much of my years, I daydreamed of traveling to distant places until one day in my early twenties, I quit my job, packed my bags and set off on a little european adventure all by my little self... and it was the best thing I've ever done- for me. I've done a bit more since then, but in all honesty, I've had to make some compromises and give up one of the things I've truly ever loved in order to gain some others. 

So this morning, I woke up particularly grateful that travel is once again in my future. We actually have two dream trips planned within just a couple months of each other... and get this... we're actually booked.  I can hardly believe it. It's no longer a fluid little daydream, but we - The Mister and I actually have tickets.

So it is then, that I've set about making plans and daydreaming of all the little treasures I will be packing in my suitcase. 

These two trips could not be more different in location and necessity. But I'm trying to find similarities so that I can parlay some of what I acquire between locations. We will be doing quite a bit of air and train travel between the two, so I'm zeroing in on essentials like versatile walking shoes, a good convertible cross body bag and scarf to keep me comfortable. I've been on the hunt for durable, lightweight (and affordable) luggage as well.  

one // two // three // four // five // six // seven 

Both of these two trips are almost once in a lifetime type events and I'm looking to pack a few extra luxuries to make them even more special. I've highlighted a few above that I've earmarked for a little pre-flight shopping spree.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Simple Summer Dinner

The temperature both inside and out last night was hovering somewhere between 79 and 84 degrees. When it comes to preparing dinner on warm summer nights like that, I tend to err on the side of easy.  I shoot for minimal effort over a hot stove and I don't even wanna think of turning on the oven. Last night's dinner was a perfect example of a quick and easy meal that still felt a little indulgent. 

Ok, so I did turn on the oven for all of 10 minutes to make crostini (and trust me, I soon regretted it). But you don't have to. Pop some of your favorite crusty bread into the toaster instead. I like to smash a little avocado onto the bread first before topping with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion and olive oil. I put a block of fresh Romano cheese onto the table as well, thinking we'd dust it over our bruschetta. Old habits die hard though and we just ended up flaking off a couple of chunks to eat alone.

I paired the self serve bruschetta with a wedge salad- something we always order when dining out, but forget to make at home. I was reminded how much I love them! To keep things lighter, I experimented with a version of homemade blue cheese using fat free greek yogurt. It came out a little tangier than a typical blue, but we ate it guilt free. We washed it down with a dry of rose, a perfect compliment to all of the sharp and tangier flavors used in this no fuss meal.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fruit Fever

It might just be symptomatic of the season at hand, market stands now overflowing with fresh stone fruits, juicy watermelon and strawberries on the verge of over-ripening. But I feel like the signs of a bonafide fruit fever have been building for some time. Throughout the cool season, we saw recipes using poached and macerated fruits, infused bar syrups and citrus cocktail garnishes; by Spring, we were all juicing it up and filing away recipes that would satisfy a sweet tooth without sacrificing health benefits. Now that summer has unleashed it's heat, I've noticed a trend using fruit in colorful, inventive ways that give new life to tired seasonal recipes. 

I'm certainly making use of the summer bounty at my local grocer. These days, I'm roasting strawberries and adding them to my latest batch of ice cream, freezing off fresh rings to make popsicles and even grilling peach halves to enjoy a light dessert with little fuss. I'm pretty sure few twists beat a good old fashioned slice of cold watermelon (sprinkle on a little salt- it will change your life!), but I've discovered that treating the fruit with a little spice, ice or heat first really goes the extra distance to create a deeper, richer flavor than simple cut fruit can offer alone.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Bucket List

It's amazing how fast time flies when your having fun. Now on the backside of the Independence Day holiday here in the States, it feels like those long awaited for days of summer are quickly slipping away. The weekend calendar is starting to fill up through the remaining weeks and I have a feeling we'll be looking at cooler temperatures and falling leaves before we know it. 

 I woke up this morning and reminded myself of all the things I really want to make happen before summer comes to an end, all those things I daydream about in front of my computer all year long (I tend to romanticize summer- you know what I mean?). I don't want to add unnecessary stress by forcing more things to fit into our schedule, so I narrowed it down to just three. 

Here are the things I've earmarked as priorities on my summer bucket list.

I think those who live outside of California imagine that we spend all of our time at the beach. Not true. I currently live 20 minutes from the shoreline (and not too long ago just a bike ride away) and I can count the number of times I've waded through the sand and into the water over the last five years on one hand. With the pool now beckoning outside my back door, I fear those beloved days at the beach could slip further out of my reach if I don't work harder for them. 

I love a good adventure, but truth be told, just not the good old fashioned pitch-a-tent and camp type. Oh, I can rough it, but camping out in the backwoods would make me feel a little too vulnerable and unsafe I think- not the makings for a pleasurable time away. Perhaps I just need to ease into it? A tent hotel seems an agreeable compromise. The mid-century styled one above is located in Marfa, Texas and is right up my alley. But if we can make this happen, we'll probably go local

Part and parcel with the romance of summer is all of the entertaining opportunities that it brings. These days, we're pretty casual around here - we typically set up some version of a buffet structured around pool-friendly fare- tacos, sandwiches, tacos and more tacos...  I'd really like to mix it up though and gather all of our friends for one sit down dinner under the stars. Between work and family commitments, our group is so busy these days that it's tough to get everyone together all at once anymore. If we can make this happen, it will likely be in the final days of summer, while the night air is still warm and family vacations have ended. It'd be the perfect way to close out the season.

What is on your summer bucket list?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Modern Day Americana // Beekman 1802

You often hear people saying that it's time this country gets back to our roots and frankly I couldn't agree more.  The people that most inspire me most these days are those that invest back into their own communities and look for ways to live more responsibly, sustainably and beautifully. Companies that do this have my admiration as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a company doing so that doesn't have at least one powerful behind the scenes figure who holds those values higher than the bottom line.

Beekman 1802 first caught my attention through the popular reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys, chronicling the goat farming adventures of Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer- Purcell as they turned their weekend retreat into a bonafide working farm.  Early episodes showed the two struggling to launch a homemade enterprise and keep the farm afloat. Like any good success story though, lessons were learned along the way and viewers like me were able to empathize with what they ultimately were working to accomplish through all the chaos that made for good TV. 

 The Farm and The Fabulous Beekman Boys weathered the recession and their growing pains and now, business is thriving. Through the learnings of start-up emerged a brand that is doing admirable things at the local level and inspiring people like me on the other side of the country to find the "roots" movement within our own communities. Their products and beautifully concepted branding convey clear messages: revival, simplicity, nostalgia, ingenuity and craftsmanship. 

One of the most appealing aspects of their business is that they've partnered with local artisans who hand craft many of the products they sell in their store. Theirs is an example of people taking care of their own, which is one of the most American traits I can think of.

The Boys showed they've truly learned from the best in class companies they've partnered with because they pulled out all the stops when designing their flagship storefront on Main Street in Sharon Springs. The story behind the building itself is full of fascinating lore that brings even more meaning to every corridor and hallway patrons walk through while filling their hand baskets full of hand-forged goods. Just as intriguing is the background on the detail millwork that went into the entry hall (below)- worth a trip to see in and of itself don't you think? 

Genius branding and design collide at the storefront. The raised Beekman logo puts a modern spin on the refurbished building, while grassy steps give a playful nod to the Farm that produces many of the products sold inside (above). 

One of my favorite aspects on the Beekman 1802 website is the Recipes page, where Josh and Brent publish meals cooked right in their own kitchen. There is also a glimpse into the recently published Heirloom Cookbook below. In true heirloom style, readers are encouraged to experiment and put their own twist on the ingredients, then share outcomes and pictures of their own making. Lucky for us, we all get to pull up a seat at the table and become part of a bigger community inspired by friendly, neighborly Sharon Springs. This one definitely tops my wish list.
Below are some other goodies that you can find at the online Beekman 1802 storefront.

Be a thoughtful neighbor and bake a summer fruit pie in your own kitchen. Deliver it in one of Beekman's heavy duty metal tins and tie it off with a humorous post card. {Good Neighbor Pie Kit}  

Caramel made using goat milk right from the Beekman Farm would be fabulous drizzled over some vanilla ice cream. {Cajeta} 
Display soaps in this whimsical four-legged dish by ceramicist Barbara Murray Sullivan. 
This reduction of balsamic vinegar, figs and elderberries is exactly what your cheese is asking for. {Blaak Drizzle} 
 Hand blended, all natural soaps made from the Farm's own goat milk are available in a variety of scents inspired by what's currently growing in the garden. 
The Mercantile collaborated with nearby Thistle Hill Weavers to create silk scarves in the signature Beekman stripe. 
I can't wait to detox and polish up with these beautifully packaged goat milk soaps made from bamboo charcoal and gold mica (with 23 karat gold flakes!) 

* All images from Beekman1802

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Decorating With // Flags

The Independence Day holiday is approaching and like so many of our neighbors, we will proudly display our flag over the steps to our porch. But lately, I've also been feeling the look of flags hung on the inside of our door as well. I've been treading lightly- looking for one in the right material and with the right patina. Too hastily chosen and my interiors plan could look too contrived. I've also been mulling over the colors themselves - I like the patriotism that comes with displaying an American flag, but I think I'm after a little playfulness and quirk, something a bit unexpected. 

Maybe that would be translated through just how and where I would hang it.

Regardless of origin, scale or hue, flags in and of themselves are a great way to infuse a bit of strength and masculinity to a space, which caters well to my decorating affinity. I have to admit that I am drawn to using them as larger scale artwork, sort of "watching over" the other elements in a room if you will. It's also in my nature to neatly frame one. But flag displays that are tacked nonchalantly over a bed or couch are the ones I've always taken notice of first, mostly I think because they tend to reflect a sort of carefree confidence about the person living in the space. 

Do you agree? Would you hang a flag inside your home?

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