Monday, February 28, 2011

To Ashley on Her 27th Birthday

Dear Ashley,
Today you turn 27 and, though it isn't known conventionally as a significant year, it will prove to be a period of substantial and meaningful change. This year you will marry the love of your life, a man you've waited for a long time for, and will grow the size of your family to include many more wonderful people.

(Where you'll be married in less than three short months)

This year, you will continue to pursue your dreams and follow your passions, wherever they may take you.

But at 27, Ashley, please take this challenge: try something you've never tried before. Read something you've always wanted to read. Introduce yourself to a stranger with confidence.
Worry less and enjoy more. 

With this birthday, resist the urge to compare yourself with others. Just be you. Learn who that is and just go with it. 
Here's to many more birthdays and many more years surrounded by loving family and friends.

You've come a long way, baby.
Happy birthday.


[I promise tomorrow we'll get back to the home decor stuff...thanks for indulging me!]

Friday, February 25, 2011

TGIF, 2/25/11 Edition

I'm overjoyed that the weekend is upon us because, tonight, my parents are heading down to Philly from Connecticut to celebrate my birthday before I officially turn 27 on Monday.

What are my birthday wishes, you ask?

Aside from world peace, eternal happiness for my family and friends, and my student loans instantly forgiven, I'd have to say my birthday wishes are dedicated to a seriously enviable art collection.

Here's my 27th-birthday-dream-art-wishlist:
("Baul Thoughts" by Naomi Clark)

("Melody" by Mary Heilmann)

("Antonia" by the uber-talented Michelle Armas)

("The Answer/Wasn't Here" by Tauba Auerbach)

A birthday girl can dream, right?
Perhaps on my 37th birthday, I'll have a home filled with these inspiring pieces.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Actual Wedding Registry

Yesterday, I posed an interesting dilemma of sorts related to my wedding registry. Today I'll share my actual know, the stuff most people are accustomed to purchasing for an engaged couple. Instead of relying on the standard method of registering (going to a brick-and-mortar store, scanning things aimlessly, etc.), we decided early on to try out an online system that allows us to:
  • aggregate our registries from individual stores to one convenient list;
  • utilize the website to "pull in" items at various stores that do not have the option of creating a registry.
Where did we find this capability, you ask? The website is relatively straightforward to manuever. It allowed us to sync our existing registries (created in-store) with online-only registries (i.e., Amazon). 

The best part? has a feature that allows you to select any item from any website and add it to your "My Registry" webpage. Ideal, right? That means that I have the option to pick and choose from a variety of stores.

For our kind relatives and friends purchasing from the list, allows guests to clearly see the number and type of items unpurchased. When a guest decides what they would like to select, redirects easily to the vendor's site (i.e., Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, get the drill).

Here's a few items included on our registry:

As I mentioned, this website has the capability for me to select non-traditional gifts, too, which is a big plus is my book. 

I've registered for small prints,

fun bottle openers,

 and quirky salt-and-pepper shakers.

All in all, this whole registering business is a lot of work, but I found a website that's worked well for this gal. I share it in hopes that it makes registering for your wedding or upcoming baby a little easier.

P.S. I received no compensation to share these opinions...and you better believe if something goes wrong with this online process, I'll be sure to honestly share it with you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can I Register for Upholstery Services?

My family, friends, and co-workers are blessing me in the upcoming weeks with three (!) wedding showers, which has prompted significant interest in "what I want". they realize the Pandora's box they're opening up with such an open-ended question?

What I want? What I want?!

Sure, Adam and I have registered for the typical know, plates, silverware, wine glasses, ice cream maker, etc; but there's a part of me dying to add something outlandish and unexpected.

Our newlywed friends Matt and Valerie recently suggested we include something "big" that we don't expect to actually receive (full disclosure: Adam is contemplating adding an iPad), but I'm thinking I'll go in a different direction.

What do I really want to register for?
Upholstery services because, hot damn, it gets 'spensive when you've got many projects in the queue.

Take a look at the pieces waiting around to be revamped as a wedding gift.

My living room chair 
(swiftly moving on the Sister Parish "Tucker" fabric):
 The worn-out ottoman we salvaged from Adam's grandparents:
 My $13 Ebay x-bench, languishing with this Golden Girls fabric for far too long:
 And finally, my most recent acquisition, a side chair for our den:
As you can see, registering for upholstery services would be a wiser investment than candlesticks or a crock pot. I mean, how many posts on this blog have been dedicated to crock pots? None.

Now, the question is, can I get away with it?
For all you marrieds out there: did you register for anything "outside the box"?
If so, do tell!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Affordable Bella Foster Artwork

While perusing the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, I stumbled upon this Bella Foster giclee print
that is now available in a limited run through Wayne Pate for only $115.

For all of us who fell in love with Foster's immense talent after it was prominently promoted by Kate Spade, here's an affordable alternative to commissioned pieces.

But, please, don't run out and buy them all!
I'll be adding one to my wedding registry!

Monday, February 21, 2011

To-Do: DIY Lighting Fixture

This past weekend, my fiance Adam and I spent quite a bit of time accomplishing wedding-related "To-Do's". But, I'd be lying if I said my "To-Do" list was limited to wedding items...

Here's one of the "To-Do's" that I'm most excited to tackle when the wedding prep slows down: A DIY lighting fixture to replace the "builder's special" ceiling-mounted light in my bedroom.

Here's the project rapidly moving up my "To-Do" list:
This fun chandelier is right out of Timeout New York (who'da thought?), and I've had it in my inspiration files for far too long. The step-by-step instructions allow for even the most novice DIY-er to recreate the fixture above, which came from the Brooklyn bar Abilene. I love it because, while modern and slightly industrial, the shape is reminiscent of coral. A nice combo of industrial and natural.

Now, want to do this yourself? 

All materials are sourced from your local Home Depot or other hardware store (I bought everything for around $40--yes, I have all the materials...but I've stalled on the actual installation):
  • 15–20 Y-shaped socket adapters or “splitters”
  •  15–20 small round standard-base lightbulbs
Step 1: Take a Y-shaped socket adapter and screw two more Y-shaped socket adapters into each of its ends.
Step 2: Then screw two more socket adapters into each of those ends and so on, until your chandelier has split out enough to the desired size.
Step 3: Next, screw the lightbulbs into the empty socket ends.
Step 4: Attach the completed chandelier to the ceiling by twisting the original Y-shaped adapter—which is now the chandelier’s base—into your ceiling’s light fixture.

Since I've already put together this new lighting for my bedroom, perhaps I'll have a new reveal to share with you all sooner than later...and one more "To-Do" off my list!

What decor-related "To-Do's" are on your list?

Friday, February 18, 2011

TGIF, 2/18/11 Edition

Am I the only one who had the longest week ever?

I've got very little to complain about though because today it's predicted to reach 65 degrees here in February! I'm psyched.

Another reason to celebrate? Sunday is Adam's 27th birthday.
Wasn't baby Adam adorable? This photograph is part of a gallery wall by our staircase and it makes me smile every time I see it.
Happy birthday, Adam.
You've added so much more to my life than I thought I deserved.

But, enough of the schmaltz...on to the decor! 
You may remember that over the weekend I scored a fun side chair while out with Naomi. It's a vintage Hickory Chair [chair] and its massive, undeniable tear is pressing me to bring it to an upholsterer, STAT.

It will be a new side chair for our "den". Have a look-see:
Since I have extra charcoal linen from my loveseat project, I think I'll just use that for the chair's upholstery and punch it up with a fun print (not the Premier Prints dots, though--need something new).  Aside from the upholstery, which will be a huge improvement, I'm also going to tackle the sub-par legs.

Instead, they'll be replaced by these, via Ebay:
Four legs coming my way for only $11.25! I'm going to buy some brass caps for the bottom of the legs, just in case you were wondering. So, check back next week when I begin my chair leg amputation! 
This should get interesting...

Happy weekend, everyone! 
Wishing you all 65 degree weather!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Report: Restoring a House in the City

Last month, I shared my first entry in my new "Book Report" feature, where I'll review a home decor book and offer my comments and critiques. The first installment of "Book Report" took a look at "Home from the Hardware Store"--if you haven't checked out my write-up, find it here.
Today, I'll share my thoughts on Ingrid Abramovitch's "Restoring a Home in the City," a book I just recently purchased. I anxiously awaited the arrival of my copy and, when it did, I quickly consumed all of the visual delights inside.

Here are a few of my favorite images:
 (via Katy Elliott)

The first urban home presented in the book is that of Robert Duffy, the president of Marc Jacobs. His home in New York's West Village is chic and understated. 

Duffy's environment is masterfully curated (for more on Duffy, 
check out his Provinctown vacation home featured in Elle Decor).
 (Robert Duffy's West Village home via Salvaged Grace)

Lest you think the book is all about classical takes on historic city homes, Abramovitch divides her time equally amongst traditional and more modern renovations. Most homes were thoughtfully styled and would have seemed appropriate to be featured in any issue of Elle Decor.

Here, Brooklyn homeowners utilized great architectural detail in their pocket doors,
 (via Casa Cara)

while a Philadelphia couple reinvented their Society Hill home (so close to me!) into a modern mansion:
(Philadelphia represent! via Salvaged Grace)

(via Inhabitat--notice the foyer designed by Ellen Hamilton)

I was in awe of Darryl Carter's kitchen (which is enormous and drenched in sunlight),
 (Darryl Carter's kitchen via Urban Turf)

and totally smitten with this playful fireplace from Brooklyn.

But as this is an honest review, I felt the book was, at times, a bit disconnected from reality. I found myself skipping the homes that boasted over 10,000 sq. feet in liveable space. 

I mean, c'mon. 
Most of us urban dwellers are lucky to have 1/10th of that space in the city!

I also found that the Beacon Hill home featured seemed out of place from the other renovations included in the book. The home was more Architectural Digest than Elle Decor, if you know what I mean. I could practically smell the mothball scent emanating off the page.

Having said all that, I thought that "Restoring a House in the City" was worth a look, but overall it lacked resonance with me. The homes featured required multi-million dollar renovations, and many more millions to furnish. I simply couldn't relate. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with a little aspirational decor every now and then. Most of the spreads just seemed completely unattainable, in every sense of the word.

Instead, I find myself more compelled to check out the work budget-conscious bloggers are doing on their own homes (a la Katy Elliott or Anna Dorfman of Door Sixteen) than those with an endless supply of capital. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Blog!

(Original Cupcake photograph via EllaKSverdlov on etsy)

One year ago today, I began this lil' ol' blog.

Off the bat, I was timid to share the url with anyone I knew in real life, fearing their judgment and critique. Remember, I'm not an interior designer; I'm just a twenty-something with a penchant for all-things design. I posted without concern that no one was reading. This was just my little space to share my design inspirations and the projects that were keeping me busy around the house.

But that got lonely. 

Mustering what confidence I could, I began commenting (big me) on others' blogs and found that kind-hearted, inspiring bloggers out there actually began reciprocating!

A year into this blogging endeavor, I'm slowing building regular readership. Believe it or not, your thoughtful comments and emails (I even get emails from you! So sweet!) inspire me more than you'll ever know. The point-of-view and vision that you, dear readers, share in your comments and on your own blogs challenges me to the nth degree.

The fact that you take even a minute out of your day to visit my little repository of interior ideas makes my lifetime, you really must know that.

Thanks for making the first year of my blogging so special.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let the Sunshine In

Yesterday, after weeks and months of cold, windy winter weather, Philadelphia was showered in warm sunshine...but it was a short-lived tease, and its back to cold and windy today.

To escape the reality of the usual February freeze, I'm imagining myself in this sunny bedroom that's bright and warm. I mean, who couldn't use a pair of lush tangerine drapes right about now? 
Vitamin C does a body good.

Is anyone else counting down 'til spring?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pretties for Valentine's Day

 Happy Valentine's Day, blog friends! I hope that today you are surrounded by beautiful flowers, sweet treats and lovely sentiments.

I picked up a bouquet of precious pink ranunculus from Trader Joe's this weekend, and couldn't help but share them. The vase is a Votivo candleholder that was too special to discard once the candle was finished.

Speaking of lovelies, I met up with the uber-awesome Naomi of Design Manifest to hunt down some mid-century pieces at a warehouse in the Fishtown area of Philly. Naomi is a doll and has a real talent for design, folks. If you're not already reading her blog, get on now.

Want to see what I walked away with?

A vintage Hickory chair (reupholstery and new legs needed) and a Joan Miro lithograph! 

Big things in store for the chair, my dears...

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

P.S. Photographer and wedding cake are decided...we are thrilled!

Friday, February 11, 2011

TGIF, 2/11/11 Edition

Welcome to the weekend, readers!

Last Friday I mentioned that, with a discount that Casey of Loft & Cottage shared, I finally bought the Dash & Albert "Staffordshire" rug I'd been wanting for so, so long. It arrived earlier this week and here it is all laid out in our bedroom.
I couldn't be happier!

As for this weekend, Adam and I are back in wedding planning mode. We'll be:
Happy Friday, readers. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you're enjoying yourselves.
'Til Monday!

P.S.: Thank you to Kathy for the shout out on her fab blog, My Interior Life. If you haven't seen it, run right over and peruse her good.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recreating Ruthie

Perhaps like me, you've been a fan of this Ruthie Sommers loveseat for awhile now.
(both images via Ruthie Sommers)

We know that Ms. Sommers' loveseat didn't start out so fab. 
Take a look:

Now, what would you do if I told you I found this charming cream sofa with contrasting brown piping on Craigslist for only $195!?!?
(via Craigslist)

Now, no eye gouging or hair pulling to get this one.
If you're the lucky person to grab this deal, please let me know!
Let's make the lovely Ruthie Sommers proud.

Thank you for the overwhelmingly sweet comments about my sideboard project, everyone. You all really made my week!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sideboard Project, Part 2 (After)

I know you all are just on the very edge of your seats awaiting the reveal of my revitalized sideboard project (kidding, kidding)...I won't tease for too long, but indulge me just for a minute.

I've been wanting another source of storage for the combined kitchen/dining room in our apartment. Because I'm getting married in May, I was looking ahead to the kitchen-related gifts we will be receiving and I was suddenly overcome with the unbearable fear that I'd have no wear to hide it all!

For a person who likes everything hidden, this possibility caused a lot of anxiety! As late as last Friday evening, I was trolling Craigslist and came upon a dresser that, with a little effort, might work for my space. Adam (ever the sage) advised me to sleep on it and I did. The next day, we went to Impact and I nearly stumbled over this desk just minutes after arriving. The rest, as they say, is history.

Yesterday I shared Part 1 of this transformation, which chronicled the unexciting stuff (i.e., removing hardware, patching, sanding, priming). All necessary to get us to the heavenly sight I'm revealing now.

 Give me color, color, color!

I chose "Bonsai" from Martha Stewart's line for Home Depot. It's in an eggshell finish so as not to highlight any imperfections. It's a lively, fresh green that seems more than fitting for a kitchen (especially my subterranean kitchen...yes, my kitchen is underground...sad face).
 As you may remember, this desk-turned-sideboard needed paint and new knobs. Talk about sad! While at Home Depot I scoped out the selection of Martha-brand knobs and pulls...and, surprise, surprise, came away with 6 of these:

Pretty spiffy, huh? I couldn't see myself spending buckets of cash on the knobs at Anthropologie. Remember, this thing was only $20 to begin with.

The choice of paint color came from my 2 Claire Nereim prints, both of which were framed in a grass green metal from Larson-Juhl. Some may think it's too 'matchy-matchy', but for now I like it. I needed a strong color that cut some of the drabness that comes with coordinated warm oak cabinets and flooring (yikes).
All set up:
The one addition I'll make to my sideboard soon is the pair of marble lamps I'm having repaired.
Should be lovely.

What do you think!?
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