Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
The surge of coverage both highlights the obvious appeal of eco-friendly design (efficient energy bills, decent design quality and general good karma), but doesn't tend to be forthright about the downfalls (products can be prohibatively expensive, time consuming and, in the case of dirt flooring, requires a bit of education before a homeowner is okay with the idea).
Yes, we want to reduce the environmental impacts of our lifestyle without sacrificing style, but generally the costs scare us off. BusinessWeek summed this up nicely. If faced with deciding to purchase a snazzy new granite countertop versus a very efficient furnace, most of us will pick the countertop.
Eco-friendly MIO Culture, based here in Philadelphia, has a bunch of home decor stuff that is a more realistic alternative to sodding up the roofs and floors. As said before, I'm primarily a big fan of their 3-D wallpaper, specifically for long-ignored entry hallways. But the company earns points for their design consideration, but also for addressing affordability.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I was more preoccupied with the new spring stock at MGBW, which includes this fancy chest of drawers (left). MGBW designs generally had a more pared down aesthetic, so it's surprising to see more romantic forms that you'd normally see at retailers like anthropologie. Really, you should take a look.
Thoughts: Does this mean that the so-called "modern" look is pretty much over and done with, or are we heading in to a more juxtaposed aesthetic?
Photo from mitchellgold.com
Thursday, January 18, 2007
1. 1890's Sofa Table. This sofa table is a (relative) bargain at $125, looks very sturdy and could be used as a makeshift dining area, bed stand or side table. The leather upholstery (on the table top) seems to be well-weathered and doesn't require any updating. The finish itself isn't terrible, but I would personally spray paint the entire piece in a cream color. Maybe robin's egg blue. As you can see, the beauty of the piece is in the shape of the legs and the general proportion. A solid paint color will highlight those aspects.2. Chaise Lounge, $375 A bit pricey for our general purposes (furnishing a home for not a lot of money), but not so bad when you consider that Baker is selling a similar one for $2,000+. I personally find chaise lounges to be entirely necessary to my very being, so if I were so inclined, I'd buy this, then re-upholster in a turquoise or raspberry linen, then painting over the wood in gold, white or black (if with raspberry).
3. 1950's Blonde Oak Dresser, $65 Slightly hotel-esque, but sand down that oily sheen, replace the knobs and paint really any color you wish. I'd advise spray paint specifically made for furniture, available at Home Depot/Lowe's. Could also be used as a sideboard.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
It IS possible to furnish your home on a slight budget without sacrificing quality, style or even comfort. I know because I've managed to do it over the course of a year and a half, right down to the collection of 14 platinum-edged porcelain dinner plates ($3.50-$7.99 a piece) that I bought last week.
So get your piggy banks, here are the secrets to charm on the cheap, even if you're just starting out in your own hovel of an apartment:
1. Develop an eye for quality and style. Browse the high-end magazines for furniture ads or general setting photos. You're not doing this to follow trends, you're just honing your ability to spot high quality and expensive-looking styles. If you study, you'll be able to go to most secondhand stores (read: not vintage, not overpriced nonsense) and come out with something that looks antique. Or will at least know how to re-work a questionable item so it does look special.
2. Start saving--you'll need about $1,500-2,000 at most for this step. Winter (specifically January) and Summer (usually August) are the best times to buy high-ticket furniture for insane discounts. Really. I just bought a $3800 hand-carved table for an insane price. I have bought dresses for more than this table. Waiting for clearance sales=great payoffs.
3. Paint your rooms, if needed. As much as I hate saying this, do a neutral color. I know, I have coral pink walls, but if you're just starting out, it's hard enough buying furniture without having to worry about it matching a silver-and-watermelon-pink wallcovering. Pale buttercream, grey with the slightest twinge of pink, and regular cream are always flattering. Extend the paint on to the ceiling if you can for a more-finished look.
4.. Where to invest. Learn to live with the couch (or upholstered chairs) and dining room table you presently have. These two furniture pieces make a HUGE difference on your overall decor, you have no idea. Even if you fill your home with priceless curiousities, a cheap futon will ruin everything. Same goes for cheap tables with thick layers of plastic-looking veneer. Invest modestly in these two pieces. You will always use a couch and a nice big table. You can even use the table as desk, if you're pressed for space.
If you own a very tiny space--meaning no possible room for a dining room table--replace your counters and/or cabinetry. Huge difference.
In the meantime, get rid of your cheapest-looking, dreary stuff. If it can't be painted to look better, give it away.
5. Almost always, buy these items on sale at high-end places: Plates, drinking glasses and goblets, blankets/bedding, end/accent tables, decorate storage, pillows, drapes, rugs and tablecloths. Buy more plates and glasses than you think you need.
5.a. Usually buy solids, unless you see a pattern you adore. Make sure the curtains you buy aren't see through.
6. Almost always, buy these things second-hand, looking for the highest quality possible: Coffee tables, chairs, bureaus, headboards, mirrors, tall cabinets (instead of bookshelves or wall-mounted cabinets). Look for classic lines, good detailing and convincingly good construction. Don't worry about color or hardware--these can be replaced.
6.a. Don't buy anything with a cheap veneer. You know those cute chain stores that specialize in quasi-contemporary furnishings? Good for accessories, not for furnishings. In the catalogues, the stuff looks adorable, in person, terribly cheap. Save yourself the trouble.
7. Chandeliers and lamps can be bought anywhere, even chain stores. Remember that people will notice them, and that you can also paint these (albeit carefully). Don't buy torchiere lamps.
These are the general rules for starting out in style, while not spending too much. If you always buy high-quality in a neutral pattern, you won't have to worry about mixing and matching. You'll look charming, not adrift.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
However, there is one good thing about all that bed rest, besides watching a weekend of That Girl...online shopping. I'm one of millions who puts off shopping until the last available moment, which turns out to work in my favor, since retailers start marking things down. Not that I'm cheap, mind you, just exuberant. I like buying lots at a time, in multiples.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Many new construction homes/apartments are of the “loft-inspired” or open floor plan. It’s a no-brainer as to why people like these plans—you get lots of spaciousness, control over where you can arrange your furniture and you don’t have to navigate around doorways when moving in. The issue usually comes up with how to properly define a space when there aren’t any rooms.
I’ve found a solution with the Textile Softwall, available through Design Within Reach (1710 Walnut St.). The Softwall is exactly what it sounds like: a soft wall. It’s made out of environmentally sound materials, portable and soundproof. When standing, the wall’s curvy shape is a more visually interesting alternative to traditional dividers. The Softwall also allows natural light to filter through, no small feat for a partition.
Though it’s a bit pricey for some budgets, I’d say that this was a smart investment for some individuals. You can use it as a general room divider, as a way to section off your home office space, or as an outdoor privacy screen.