30 June 2010

dwell on design part 2: innovation

Read my first report from Dwell on Design here.

Dwell on Design is supposed to be a place to showcase innovative new design solutions, especially those that are theoretically "green" solutions (my opinion is that it is rarely better to throw out something perfectly functional in favor of something new and "sustainable"... not that I don't throw stuff out, but I don't fool myself that I'm being environmentally responsible... but I will get off my high horse now).

And there was lots of cool stuff to see at the show. Today's installment is all about the innovative products and designs featured at the show. Like that cool assemble-yourself shed made out of bent plywood, above. I just love everything about it (except the price tag).

Loll Designs brought out lawn furniture made from recycled materials

Though not specifically green, I love the different take on doors.... such a simple yet powerful way to add style and architecture

One of the two prefab mini houses (325 square feet, though I swear it felt more like 150 square feet inside... I'm not quite there yet, folks)

It did feature some very cool decking materials, made from bamboo and recycled materials (and possibly some teak... when did teak become acceptable again? I thought it was harvested from the rainforest??)

A modular shed that could easily be converted into a home office, featuring solar panels

My kind of modular... fab tent living

At first glance, it's just another range, but that elevated set of back burners seems so functional to me (and at $6000, it will have to always just SEEM functional)

It's a little embarrassing how much this excites me, but check out all of that great electrical innovation (the dimmers, the timers, the motion sensors... oh baby)

Did you notice how much astroturf shows up in a lot of these photos? Evidently that's a big innovation too. In rain-starved SoCal, you can get some pretty huge rebates from the water company for ripping out your grass lawn in favor of drought resistant plants and such, but it seems that quite a few folks are going for turf instead. I'm more of a xeriscaping girl myself, but it takes all kinds...

Stay tuned for the third and final installment, featuring some of the home decor highlights from the show.

29 June 2010

desk update

Regular readers will be familiar with the name Jenn, one of my dearest friends, and who has a fabulous new home in Denver.

Jenn and I are in a bit of a gift-giving cycle that we've sworn we would try to trim back... she sends a super thoughtful, beautiful gift as thanks for, say, hosting her over Thanksgiving, during which visit she also brought a super thoughtful, beautiful gift as an on-arrival hostess gift, and then I send a thank-you-for-the-thank-you, she sends a thank-you-for-the-thank-you-for-the-thank-you and so on... it's a little out of control, but we have many lovely things around the house as a result.

Knowing my love of owls, and being a frequenter of art galleries and shows, Jenn snagged me an adorable line drawing that I just had to work into my desk area, even eschewing our all-black frame rule that reigns elsewhere in the house. I also added a $13 magnetic bulletin board from Ikea. During the last desk area update I had already added the coordinating blue egg holder and the gorgeous vintage vase that Jenn sent a few months ago, and you'll see that both still play prominently. (Though I am still figuring out a way to feature the vase even more properly in the house.)


Now (please forgive the low light... it's June Gloom!)

(Yes, I realize it's lame to post clippings from Real Simple, but I just really love that quote. I own my geekiness.)

28 June 2010

back from the dead: domino archives

I'm hardly the first one to report it, but this is just such great news that we should all be shouting it from the rooftops. Domino is back... at least the archives of the old issues are. Rejoice!

Word is that the full archives will be posted in the near future, but some of the best features are already alive and well on Brides.com (a slightly odd choice, but beggars can't be choosers). 

BREAKING: Domino Magazine Back Online

dwell on design: the first installment

Dear Readers -- For those of you who attended DoD, you know that it was a lovely sight to behold (including an up-close-and-personal sighting for me of a long-time celeb crush who would definitely be on my list if I were to have a list). For those of you who couldn't attend, rest assured that the coolest stuff to see was astronomically expensive, often highly impractical (350 sq. ft. prefab home, anyone?), and sometimes just downright befuddling.

But let me try to give you a taste.

Lots of good branding in the entrance, and a clean look overall

As luck would have it, there an a case study in contrasts just down the hall in the convention center catering to a, um, different demographic

Yes, that last shot is of a pitch man, and it's blurry because I was trying to snap the shot while running away.

But back at Dwell on Design, there were some things that definitely set it apart. For starters, the embracing of new communication channels and the hospitality for those of us who help them publicize their event simply through our own enthusiasm.

This is both cool and totally self-serving... but comfy chairs!

I'll have a few follow-up reports on aspects of the show, but the one that jumped out at me the most (and differentiated DoD from the ghetto home show downstairs) was the lush greenery all about. Seriously. ALL about.

Dueling vertical gardening mechanisms abounded, as did ways to lounge in these faux outdoors.

These two were my favorites

More on Dwell on Design this week, including the revelation I received in my free kitchen design consultation. Stay tuned...

27 June 2010

is it just me...

... since admittedly I've been doing way too much painting in recent months, or do the new Toyota hybrid logos look like someone lazily forget to pull off the blue painters tape before letting the car off the assembly line?

You decide.

leather cuties: high and low

Let's say you wake up in a panic one day and say to yourself, "You know what my place is missing? A leather stuffed animal!"

Well if that happens, you now have options, one very high and one very low.

For the, um, bargain price of $1250, you can have this 4-foot-long cutie pie rhino from Jonathan Adler

Or for the slightly more reasonable price of $30, you can get this desktop-sized cutie pie hippo from CB2

And now we can all go on with our lives.

26 June 2010

a failed experiment?

A while back, I posted on my DIY vertical strawberry planter.

My goal was to be able to harvest more than one strawberry at a time, and to do it without buying one of those icky Topsy Turvy planters.

So the question is... was it a good idea or not, and has all the effort been worth it?

Answer: this might be a failed experiment.

Here is the planter now, after several weeks of use. It holds 14 strawberry plants, plus three test plants (one each of cucumber, yellow squash and zucchini) across the bottom.

The most obvious thing you notice is that it's kind of yucky looking from all of the dirt. It's not just that it's holding dirt, it's that the fabric actually drains too well. So whenever I water the plants, nearly all of the water runs right through, bringing some dirt with it, staining the bags, and leaving the plants without enough water to really grow.

The second problem is less obvious: the planter hangs right up against an exterior building wall, which gets quite warm in the sun. So combine that extra warmth with the fact that the roots have a tough time holding on to water as it is, and you have a recipe for drought. (Add to that the fact that I do not like to schlep can after can of water out onto the balcony every day, and you have a recipe for mega drought.)

But despite the problems, we have been getting some extremely tasty berries... just not by the handful as I had hoped.

And I'm still optimistic that I'll get at least one fruit from one of the experimental vines. Stay tuned...

25 June 2010

dwell on design

For LA readers, Dwell on Design, the biggest modern home and "green" design show on the West Coast, is happening this weekend at the LA Convention Center. (Note: If you go, buy your ticket online, and Google "Dwell on Design promotional code" first... cuts the ticket price to $15.)

I snagged a free consultation for our kitchen through their "Designer Is In" program, so stay tuned for the recommendations they send me home with! (They're also going to have some shopping, featuring A+R Store which is one of my all-time favorite shops in Venice, so stay tuned for any moments of indiscretion and impulse buys.)

The great acrylic buck head from Jenn's new pad in Denver came from A+R

master bath breakdown

Completing our brand new master bath in three weeks was no easy feat, and in fact took a few months of research, ordering, otherwise acquiring and planning so that everything was at our fingertips when we needed it. But all of the up-front effort totally paid off, and I will absolutely use this approach in the future (unlike in the guest bath, in which we didn't have things like the light fixtures, proper shower trim or baseboard molding in advance, which definitely set us back at key moments).

The new bathroom

You can read the full new bathroom post here. And you can read about the entire renovation planning process for our most recent master bath revamp and our guest bath revamp (which started out much more hideous) before that here

So here's a rundown of all of the stuff we had lined up (mostly) in advance, as well as the who/what/where and cost of it all. (Note: prices include 9.75% CA sales tax, except when we got something online and didn't pay sales tax... Shhh! Don't tell the IRS!)


Wall and ceiling paint: $73 (SW Duration satin in "Fleur de Sel" on walls, "Extra White" on ceiling, soffit and trim)
Vanity and sink: $450 (Ikea Godmorgon and Odensvik)
Vanity hardware: $17 (Ikea Grundtal)

Sink faucets: $248 (Price Pfister "Vega")
Mirror(s): $60* (Ikea Godmorgon)
Medicine cabinet: $42 (Lowe's standard stock)

Light fixture over sink: $210 (Jonathan Adler "Parker")
Light fixture near shower: $50 (Small halogen fixture)
Toilet: $360 (Toto Eco Supreme)
Floor tile: $139 (White "Nano" 12" porcelain)
Showerhead: $96 (Price Pfister rain can and "S-curve" pipe)

Hangers, hooks and holders: $89 (Umbra "Zen")
Cabinet over toilet: $77 (Ikea Godmorgon)

Magazine holder: $52 (Home Depot "Hanna")

Shower doors: $404 (Home Depot brushed nickel frameless)

Accessories: $87 (Vases and pebbles from Urban Home)
Miscellaneous materials: $273 (baseboard molding, threshold transition, thinset, tile cutter, paint brush, mounting hardware, etc.)

Electrician: $140 (circuit troubleshooting, Brentwood Electrical)
Plumber: $297 (hooking up the sink drains, Borghese Plumbing)
Tile Reglazing: $477 (bright white spray epoxy for the shower, PKB Reglazing)

* Should have only been $38, but we first bought two Ikea Ram mirrors for $10 each plus tax to paint their frames, and when it came out looking too DIY, we went frameless instead

Grand Total
$3641 (just over the $3612 we had estimated)

Frankly, given that we ended up needing to call in the plumber for a cool $300, we ended up having to buy two sets of mirrors because we painted the first set and couldn't return them, and we splurged on the Adler fixture and decor extras, I'm actually more than a little relieved we didn't go over by even more! (Where we really saved was in installing the floor ourselves and deciding not to knock out the soffit. Of course, we had casually hoped to stay under $3000, and we would have come close if we hadn't needed the plumber and electrician... though that money was well-spent, given how complicated the under-sink plumbing ended up being.)

This plumbing is a little too advanced for novice DIYers like us... see how flush it is to the wall, even with the trap splitter and double supply lines? Thanks for figuring it all out, Jason!

(If you're interested in getting an Ikea sink or double sink for your own home, be assured that the sink comes with all of the necessary plumbing fittings. You just need someone who can make sense of it all and modify the drain pipe coming out of your wall to make it work... not so beginner-friendly, especially if you're already a bit skittish around plumbing thanks to the last disaster. And you'll almost certainly have to use the drain that comes with the sink, not the pop-up drain that comes with your faucet of choice.)

This is what the sink plumbing looked like before Jason modified it all

Our goal was to have a bathroom that we love (success on that count), but also to add value to our condo (unknown, but hopeful). We definitely feel like we got a lot for our $3600 investment, and just hope some future buyer agrees!

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