Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out, Thomas

If you haven't ever seen Thomas O'Brien's line of lighting through Visual Comfort, you are missing out! For months now I've circled the inter-web trying to find at least one of his lovely alabaster or quartz creations in my price range. Lo and behold, I was looking in the wrong places! That's when Ebay reminded me that I could probably find something very similar to this style...
...for a whole lot less than the $599 list price. Guess what? I did!

I found these white marble beauties--2, count 'em, 2 for $25.95 including shipping! Even if I spend to change the hardware to more resemble the T.O. lamp, I've still not even come close to even $100. Don't you love just love Ebay bargains?

And with that, have a wonderful weekend, lovely readers. I hope that, where ever you are, you will share the amazing weather Philadelphia will be having this weekend.

The Purging of the Placeholders

Awhile ago, I saw this post on Apartment Therapy about "placeholder furniture," those pieces we each own that serve a utility but won't likely stand the test of time. For us, like many of you, Ikea is the source for much of the placeholder furniture we have.

I'm not saying the Swedish giant is bad; it serves a purpose for those of us twenty-somethings with limited funds. Adam and I have items from the Big Blue Box that we intend to keep, like this. But with spring here, I am really itching to purge the chaff, the not-quite-right, the placeholders, for more lasting pieces.

For example, I recently replaced this much-touted desk that just wasn't quite me:

(via West Elm)

...with this, a Connecticut Craigslist find (purchased for only $50!):

What placeholders are you hanging on to?
Do you have a plan to replace your placeholders?

I Always Wanted to be a Tenenbaum

I discovered my favorite movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, on vacation during my senior year of high school. I went to the movies with my then-boyfriend and a group of his friends returning from their first semester of college. The group I was with, save for my then-boyfriend, felt they had wasted their time and money but for me the movie was quirky, whimsical, poignant and visually enthralling.

Love him or hate him, it's clear that Wes Anderson creates entire worlds from the ground up. The production value of his movies makes me weak in the knees. I caught The Royal Tenebaums last night on television, and it reminded me how cohesively the sets and costumes create the world of the Tenenbaum family of Archer Avenue.

Look at the detail involved in the murals in Richie's bedroom:

The salmon paint and the aging carpets in the sitting room:

The childlike world of Richie's yellow tent:

(all via Google)

The Tenebaum home on Archer Avenue proudly displays "the family of geniuses" through gallery-style artwork that lines the staircase and an overall layered feeling to the space, as though it has aged with its inhabitants.

What movie interiors inspire you?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program

Since I assume that most of you are not in Philadelphia, I thought it would be nice to share a tidbit about a lovely organization here in the city dedicated to creating beautification amidst urban blight.

Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program was started in 1984 by Jane Golden, created in effort to combat the growing incidents of graffiti in Philadelphia. In the more than 25 years since its inception, the organization has "produced over 2,800 murals and educated over 20,000 underserved youth in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia." How productive and lovely.

It's hard to highlight only one of the beautiful projects the Mural Arts Program has done but, the most recent, called "Love Letter," was designed by Steve Powers and is touching. Enjoy.

All of these murals (30 in all) are visible from the elevated subway line (the El) in West Philadelphia and are really spectacular in both size and color. Wouldn't they be a lovely backdrop for engagement photos?

What a beautiful city and a powerful application of art in real life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TGIF, 3/25/10 Edition

This weekend I am heading to Connecticut for a brief visit with my family and a much needed haircut. I haven't lived in CT since 2006, but I insist on keeping the same hairdresser because, actually, she's the only one I've had since I was two. Talk about a long-term relationship.

While there, I might wrangle my mom or brother into bringing me to pick up two dressers that are listed on Craigslist for $100. Just look at this beauty:

Don't stare too long; you might fall so deeply in love with your reflection that you'll bump your head on one of the drawers.

But, shhhhh...I haven't yet told Adam I'm buying these.
Do you think he will notice?

In the queue

I'd like to believe that there are others among us with as substantial a project list as I. Because Adam and I rent and can make minimal, temporary changes to our current apartment, these projects all pertain to decor that I can pick up and carry with me to our next place. Many of said projects came out of our current apartment, which surprised us by having more livable space than we were equipped for. Problems, problems, I know.

So what are these undone projects? Well, they all reside in a queue I'm cultivating in my head. Join me, won't you?

1. Loveseat reupholstery

I refuse to believe that changing inherited furniture is somehow taboo. I will not succumb to sentimentality when I am the one that has to live with an outdated piece that threatens to keep me up nights (no, not really). Not wanting to invest in a sofa for our quasi-den, I approached my parents and asked to take this loveseat off of their hands. It's nothing of value, but my parents have had it since I was a child and I really like the curved back. Reimagine this piece with some gray linen upholstery with a few printed pillows thrown in for good measure. It should be lovely; I should get on that.

2. X-bench reupholstery

Pretty nifty find, huh? Would you believe me if I told you I won it on Ebay for $13 because, seriously, I did. It's a little Blanche Devereaux in its current state, but what potential. Eat your heart out, Jonathan Adler!

I have no ideas what to fabric to use on this piece. Any ideas?

3. Terrarium

I bought this book at a gnarly thrift store across the river near Camden last summer and it has inspired me to create a terrarium. With little more than a glass jar from Daffy's, some moss and stones from The Christmas Tree Shops, and some charcoal from local store Verde, I'm well on my way.

I promise to share the results of these projects once they materialize. There are many more floating around in my head, but I'll share these 3 first so I don't bite off more than I can chew. What projects do you have in your queue?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Never say Never

Warning: this post is neither about decorating nor Philadelphia. Instead this is simply a reflection. Proceed with caution.

Growing up, whatever that entails, has signaled a number of changes for me; it has involved realizing that the things that I once declared I would never, ever, ever like, do, or wear are things I have come to embrace. Is this a casting off of a once-independent, rebellious spirit for a conventional existence? Nah, I don't think so.

Today's case and point: R.E.M.
I despised R.E.M. when I was younger (read: 13 or so) and thought that emotive music had to sound something like this, but I am developing quite an affinity for Michael Stipe's delicate and sensitive voice, not to mention the mandolin plucking of Peter Buck. This song has been on iTunes repeat since the weekend. I guess I'm in a contemplative mood these days.

Just a small reminder that I should never say never. Have you ever found yourself developing a new-found and unexpected appreciation for some thing/quality/characteristic that you once wrote off? Or am I alone in this one?

P.S. I promise to follow the basic format of this blog (life, decor, Philly), but I also want to be flexible and allow this to be a dynamic thing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Philadelphia Spring Events

I posted earlier this week about Clover Market, which is already on our calendar for April, but this isn't the only opportunity to scrounge through the others' goodies. Phila Flea Markets is "the largest outdoor flea market in Center City Philadelphia," and rotates locations throughout the city. Proceeds benefit various local organizations, such as The Friends Of Jefferson Square Park and The Fairmount Community Development Corporation (CDC). How wonderful!

Beginning on May 1, this event runs through October 23 (with a break during the warm summer break when Philadelphians head to the "Shore," aka Jersey).

I'm already planning the spring and it's not even officially here!
I promise to report back on my findings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inspiration from more stylish Connecticut ladies

While Philadelphia is my adopted home, I hail from Connecticut, a lovely little state that I appreciate more and more as the years go past. In honor of the Nutmeg State, I wanted to share some inspiration courtesy of two fellow Connecticutians (yeah, it's a weird term, I know).

First, Ms. Chloe Sevigny. Say what you will about her fashion choices or roles (which I love), but this ballsy actress oozes style and individuality; so, should we be surprised when her home follows suit?

Decorated by David Cafiero of Cafiero Select, these photos originally appeared in a 2007 edition of the now-defunct Home and Garden.

The welcoming hallway:

The living room:

The guest bedroom:

The master bedroom:

The bathroom:

(all via Cafiero Select)

Lovely surroundings for an endlessly-inspiring style icon, but really, should we expect any less?

The second Connecticut gal with great style is my long-time friend Julie. Julie's blog, which I recommend everyone visit, is filled with delightful daily musings on topics such as crafts, cooking, and all-important wedding preparations. Definitely a must read.

Way to represent the Constitution State, ladies!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Love Me Some Craigslist

Hassles and scams aside, Craigslist is pretty great, especially for those of us who want an electic, not-purchased-in-one-sitting kind of a look to our homes. Et voila, enter Craigslist.

When I finally get around to sharing photos of our apartment, I will point out just how much of our stuff is straight from others' basements, attics, and estates (via Craigslist). This past weekend, I scouted a pair of matching vintage white wire chairs:

Are they great? Currently, one will be housed in our downstairs den and while one will greet guests in the spare bedroom. Springtime weather jolts people into cleaning, purging, and selling on Craigslist--I can't wait!

Do you have any recent Craigslist finds that you're particularly psyched about? Do tell!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clover Market

With the sadness of last week behind us, I am looking forward to the exciting things in store for us this spring.

One such exciting event that is Clover Market, which Philadelphia Magazine describes as the Main Line "version of Brooklyn Flea," (subtext: fewer hipsters).

Vendors include Chairloom, the upholstery company of creative genius Molly Worth. Molly reupholstered the chair in the heading of this blog (recovered in Rubie Green's East Village fabric). The fun and vibrant prints of Molly's pieces surely complement the experience of spring in Philadelphia.

The 2010 dates for Clover Market are:

April 11 and 25
May 9 and 23
June 6 and 20

Looks like we have at least a few weekends planned for us!
Who wants to join us?

Monday, March 8, 2010


You probably won't be seeing much of me this week. Over the weekend, I was reminded how short and precious this life really is.

On Saturday evening, Adam and I celebrated the life and memory of his cousin, who passed away too young, but has left an indelible impact on those who were fortunate enough to know him and those who never would.

Early Sunday morning, my aunt passed away after a battle with cancer. She leaves behind a husband and two children, the oldest of which is only eighteen.

Later this week, we will likely say goodbye to someone else.

I share this because, as this exercise in blogging reminds me, there is beauty, grace, and profound love surrounding us daily. We should take every moment that we have in this life to appreciate it and those we have been fortunate enough to know, to love, and to have been loved by.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thrift store chair + Ebay tote bag = New look!

Math never was my forte, but when 1 $15.99 Alan Campbell printed canvas tote bag (a lucky Ebay find) and 1 $15 thrift store chair are added together, my living room suddenly had 1 whole new look.

Alan Campbell fabric, available to the trade through Quadrille, is out of reach for me at a cost of over $150/yard. Instead a little creative thinking on my part lead me to reinvent a very large tote printed in Campbell's Deauville fabric. I spent about an hour deconstructing the tote, and discovered that I had over a yard of fabric to work with!

I laid the chair seat I wanted to recover (I even had enough for two chairs!)...

...and I began stapling until my fingers were sore!

After reattaching the seat of the chair, my results were rewarding, peppy, and a lot more fun than the original pleather seat cover. But don't take my word for it:

The last and final step? Deciding just who is lucky enough to sit on this beauty.

Monday, March 1, 2010

[Dream] Big or Go Home

My name's Ashley and I'm a Is that a thing? Because if it is, I have the disease. I regularly search real estate listings like I've got deep pockets and money to burn; but hey, dream big or go home, right?

Dutch-colonial, Georgian, gingerbread Victorian, you name it, I knew the style when I was still in elementary school (I am a geek). The architectural style in my home state of Connecticut and greater New England, with their clapboard colonials, seems to differ quite a bit from the greater Philadelphia area, where majestic stone homes abound. Needless to say, they have quickly become my favorite style.

Every few days, Adam receives emails with several links of dream houses I've found. The subject line of these emails usually reads something like, "I'll take any of these." Somehow, even now, he thinks I'm kidding.

Here are some of my favorites...just don't buy any of them without consulting me first, please:

(all via

By the way, all of these mansions are listed below $400,000, which is a lot of money but somehow seems like a bargain considering the history, the craftsmanship, and the square footage (all are over 3,000 square feet) of these beauties. They all need work, but anything worth having is worth working for.

Domino Taste on a Dollar Store Budget

(via M. Design)

When we moved to Philadelphia from New York, Adam and I came with little more than a few pieces of furniture. We moved into our former apartment in late August 2008 and lived a minimalistic life by default, rather than by choice. But, in actuality, my taste sits somewhere between the minimalist and the maximalist. I love the clean lines of a Parsons table against a jaunty Alan Campbell printed curtain, for example.

Somewhere between writing a Master's thesis, finishing coursework, and working full time, I felt the undying compulsion to furnish, to decorate, to accessorize my surroundings as both a distraction and an attempt to create a comfortable home base here in the City of Bro-ham Love.

My decorating budget remains tight but I haven't let that dissuade my search over the past year and half. Trips to pick up great deals from Craigslist, Ebay, parents' basements, and thrift stores have risen to the top of our weekend to-do lists (have I mentioned how wonderful and patient my boyfriend is?).

In the coming weeks, I will share photos of our current apartment, located in lovely Society Hill, and will share projects, inspiration and ideas about home. So, while there's no De Gournay wallpaper or pristine Paul McCobb in my immediate future, I'm not letting that stop me from making this apartment our home.
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