Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fancy Bottles for Your Non-Biodegradables

I was thumbing through the October Vogue, when the following fact jumped out at me: The average body wash, after it makes its swirly descent down the drain in to another dimension, takes about 300 years to biodegrade.

Now, I'm not the sort who frets about the biodegradability about everyday objects. I'm concerned about global warming and nasty oceans, but I also spend nearly 2 hours/day contemplating wallpaper colors. I'm also afraid that if I start wondering how quickly every item in my life will biodegrade, I'll start looking at people that way and well...that is just awful.

So Vogue recommends that we buy $60 soaps, which is fine if that is your lifestyle. You are paying not just for the zest of 1,000 lemons, but also very lovely packaging. Usually of the rustic, apothocary-like packaging that lets you know that you are not harming the world with your bathing habits.

But for the rest of us who buys cheapie biohazard liquid soap, we can pretend we are virtuous by decanting our soap in to a fancy bottle, such as this one, available at Fante's Kitchen Wares (1006 S. Ninth St.) for about $5. It takes slightly longer to pour out, so I recommend doing this with bubble-bath/leisure bathing soap, which tend to be a little more watery.

P.S. If you do pick up the October Vogue, be sure to peruse the story of Carolina Irving, beginning on page 396. I'm very enthusiastic about the way she displayed the Thomas Frye mezzotints on page 398.

Monday, September 25, 2006


So I'm expanding the features of Domestically Inclined, because...well, why not?

Starting this week, you'll find the following features frequently interspersed with the regular coverage of local goods:

Pantry Limbo: Ever wonder how cheap you can get while shopping for food/menu items or potent potables? Well, I frequently do. And here is where you'll find some answers.

The Library: I read about 2-4 books per week, leaving my head full of useless knowledge. But you'd be surprised at how handy this knowledge is when we're talking about home decor. You can't begin to comprehend the power of a first impression, for instance, without reading Auntie Mame. Well, maybe you can. But that book is very wonderful.

Sources from Allover: Occasionally I will come across a source that is worth sharing, but just happens to not be local to the area (but they do deliver).

Tips: Pretty self-explanatory, but what makes these special is that I usually have created them with renters/temporary residents/first-time-on-their-own-types in mind.

In the Papers: When you're too busy to even worry your pretty little heads with the news, you probably don't know what is going on in the home decor special sections. So I'll summarize.


Ghost Decor

As gaudy as my taste can be (at least compared to Zen/Mid-Century Modern Enthusiasts), I have something against seasonal decor. Maybe it is because holiday decor has changed quite a bit over the years, with all the cheery carved jack-o-lanterns being replaced by 6 foot tall inflatable Draculas. In Eagles uniforms.

Believe it or not, some people do bring their 6 foot tall inflatable holiday items in to town. I distinctly remember a large, half-deflated Santa Claus strapped to the exterior of a third floor apartment, and feeling as if the entire holiday season was ruined.

But if you're in the Halloween spirit, these Cerealart Ghosts from the Institute of Contemporary Art (UPenn Campus, 118 S. 36th ) whimsically express that you are indeed celebrating the holidays, but in a whimsical, humorous manner. The Ghosts on the left are salt and pepper shakers, the one on the right is a lamp.

If you like metaphors, then the Louis Ghost chair, middle, from Minima (118 N. 3rd St.) should tickle your fancy.

photos: Cerealart Ghosts, from the Institute of Contemporary Art; Louis Ghost from Kartell

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You Heard it Here First...

...unless, of course, you heard it from somewhere else. But the Tortoiseshell craze is gathering steam. Might make your wine look bad, but you'll look very chic while drinking.

Extraterrestrial Decor

You know, I have no idea what this is supposed to be, either.

All I know is that the photo at left is definitely of a light source, specfically the EL11AC from NY Loft (Philadelphia Design Building, 2300 Chestnut St. Suite 150). I wouldn't necessarily call it a "lamp" since it doesn't give off enough light to illuminate one's late night readings of Little Lord Fauntleroy.

But I was intrigued by the texture of this light source/decorative item. It reminds me of the whitewashed coral trend of the Spring-Summer season, without looking like one has dragged something off the beach and placed it on the mantel. You can only get away with that sort of flourish in the warmer months.

The spikes are an unusual vertical element, but the real interest comes from the variation of height amongst the spikes, giving unexpected mass. It's a clever visual statement that would liven up an area with a lot of horizontals, like a coffee table, forelorn shelf or...a mantel.

Photo from NYLoft.net

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Paper Dolls for Urban Sophisticates?

Yes, it is entirely possible to display a sort of doll without coming off as insane, fussy or stodgy. See here.

Dining Room Tables Are Very Good Investments

I've spent a few days trying to find an acceptable desk that has enough surface area for projects, but isn't a dreary eyesore that depresses you to the point of inactivity. Today's desk offerings tend to look as alien to the home as a cubicle or giant Xerox machine would.

I think I've said this before in the not-so-distant-past, but I fully believe and encourage everyone to eschew desks in favor of dining room tables. Yes, even if you have a microscopic apartment (you will come off as imaginative and charming when you throw all the rules regarding furniture scale out the window, by the way).

Here is the logic: Barely acceptable desks tend to cost just as much, and are not nearly as useful as a dining room table. A dining room table can accomodate all sorts of projects, tend to be better constructed and serve as a natural gathering point for your guests. And having a dining room table makes you feel like an interesting specimen that entertains constantly. You also have a place to hang a chandelier, which is always a bonus.

The above dining room table/desk is the Newport Dining Table from Usona Home (113 S. 16th). Made of solid walnut with two pedestal bases, the table is both classic and a bit off-beat. I don't have any particularly imaginative ideas regarding seating, but I do like the idea of this sort of bench seating and their complementary chair counterparts.

(photo from usonahome.com)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today's Lesson: What Exactly is Capiz?

Capiz shells have been a big trend for a while, used mainly as wall hangings and in chandelier fixtures. I didn't pay too much attention to the material, since I found it to be cumbersome, noisy and well...a bit of a rip-off. I recall west elm selling three strands of skimpy, hanging capiz shell pendants strewn on fishing wire, at an alarming price for the quantity given.

Remember the big "tissue-weight cotton" layering trend of a few years back? You know it was just a trend manufactured in order to get unsuspecting shoppers to buy multiple tank tops. Same for the capiz shell pendants- they look lovely clustered together, but you'd need to spent about $200+ for a proper look.

Above, is a great example of how you can incorporate the luminous qualities of capiz shells without a lot of hassle, fishing wire, or dealing with unfair price points. It's a capiz bowl from Ten Thousand Villages (1122 Walnut St). Wouldn't it look fantastic with a bunch of lemons in it?

*Note: I've been told that capiz is actually a thin, off-white colored portion of the shell of a clam.

(photo from tenthousandvillages.com)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Genuine Table Linens

There is just something about buying table linens that makes one feel so grown-up and domestic, isn't there?

The trouble is (and I am speaking from experience) that it's very difficult to find appropriate tablecloths that aren't made of vinyl or too formal. At left, is a wonderful runner from linen boutique Linu (1036 Pine). It's an original statement that would work well with coffee mugs or fine china.

There's also a lovely selection of full tablecloths, napkins and other accessories. Personally, I'm partial to table runners, because you can still show off the color of the table, you don't have to worry about measurements and it's less likely to get dirty.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Accounting for Myself

Okay, I admit it. I've been AWOL lately, temporarily postponing my duties of bringing you the most life-enhancing home decor objets d'art (isn't that a wonderful phrase? hard to insert in normal conversation without sounding like you're having an "episode," but I find it a lovely catch-all term for everything from Ben Franklin Piggy Banks to Faberge Eggs).

In truth, I've been working on a book. Which isn't too different from writing here, until I tell you that I actually do my more serious writing on a typewriter (left, is one of two that I own). I find it convenient that there are actually typewriter repair specialists in town. I believe that most people should try to use a genuine typewriter in their everyday lives, even if it is to write a simple Thank You note. Your recipients will be so surprised to receive a typewritten note, even if they initially think it's a ransom note.

Anyway, I'm in no way taking a break from Domestically Inclined. In fact, I'll still be posting daily, Monday through Friday. I just wanted to account for my very short absence.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Everyday Rococo Accessories

Did you know that Cher is getting rid of her collection of Rococo and Gothic home furnishings, to start over in a 'simple' Moroccan-meets-plenty-of-teak decorating scheme? She is.

And while I sincerely wonder if she's been spending too much time at Pier 1 (not that there's anything wrong with doing so if Pier 1 is what you like, it is just odd picturing glamorous Cher around anonymous wicker sets), I'd like to take this opportunity to shoot down the myth that Rococo = complicated decorating.

At left, is a candleholder by Gervasoni, available at the newly opened, much-anticipated Bruges Home (323A Race St.). The silhouette evokes the overwrought splendor of the mid 19th-century, but the unexpected flatness and all-white color make the piece simple. It's a very witty candleholder, with nary a glimmer of gold in site.

Photo courtesy of Gervasoni

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stop Burning Your Cupcakes

Can't cook? Don't fret. Maybe you just need one of these.

Instant Chandelier

So maybe I am the last person to sing the praises of Tord Boontje's Garland Light, which has been all over the design magazines for the past year now. Just add my voice to the chorus.

It's well-deserved praise, though. Unlike most light fixtures, the Garland Light doesn't require an entire afternoon devoted to installation (the garland portion clips on to a bulb). The garland also doesn't obscure the light source, so the piece remains functional instead of purely decorative. You can also control the length of the garland- stretch it for an odd stairway, or leave it massed around the bulb for use in closer quarters.

The Garland Light, at $60, is relatively affordable for the design quality and the overall impact it makes. Available through the AIA Bookstore and Design Center (17th and Samson).

(photo from AIA Bookstore)