Sunday, February 28, 2010

Never Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

Everyone who agrees with one or more of the following, raise your hands. 

"The kitchen is where all of my company ends up hanging out in."
"The kitchen is where the kids do their homework." 
"The kitchen is where I set up my laptop and pay the bills (or write my blog or catch up on emails or....)."
"The kitchen is the heart of the home." 
etc, etc........Feel free to add on here.

I grew up in a tiny little 4 room house. Kitchen, living room, 2 small bedrooms and a closet converted into a makeshift bathroom that remained in its semi-temporary state for about 30 years. In fact, I did a post awhile back  about this.

The kitchen was absolutely where it ALL happened. Meals, of course. Long telephone conversations. Lectures from Mom and/or Dad. School projects. Decorating Christmas cookies. Carving pumpkins for Halloween. Laying out the pattern for my first attempt at sewing. Board games. Manicures. Birthday parties. The list is endless.

not the kitchen I grew up in - but darn close

Now that I am all 'grown up' and have my own family, the kitchen is still where it all goes on for us. Friends and family come here to be... Be with us. Be relaxed. Be at home. Most importantly they do not come here to be entertained. I don't entertain - ever. That is such a bizarre phrase to me. Those who come to our home are those who know their way around our kitchen and feel free to help themselves to whatever is in the frig, the cookie jar and, yes, the liquor cabinet.

This is why I prefer a kitchen that doesn't look or function a like a typical kitchen. I love fabric, art, pieces of cool furniture, and lighting that most would probably be more inclined to use in their living rooms. I don't disregard practicality. That wouldn't be, um, practical. But I just don't like emphasizing that part of it. Consequently, I am always on a quest to find images of cool kitchens with a twist of the unexpected. Ya know what? They aren't that easy to find. 

However, here are some of what I did find. These amaze me. 

While I'm at it - is this sink not genius?

"Standing in a comfortable posture, cooking is done with little movement.
Bending at the waist to work to apply force when kneading dough or other tasks can be done in a low position. Cutting ingredients can be done at an optimum body position. You can adjust the height of the 3D sink by changing the three-layer ribbed structure to work in the most natural position. Put an end to working at inappropriate positions in the kitchen. Moreover, cooking and dishing up can be done on the sink. You can work efficiently even in a small kitchen. Make cooking easier than ever by working to your own plans."

 Check it out and a whole lot more here Toyo.

And here are some more . These are more along the lines of being interesting and inspiring (to me, anyway) rather than amazing.

This is just plain hilarious ..had to sneak it in!

Somewhere in the midst of my unfiled tear out sheets, I have a picture of what my ideal kitchen would be like. I'll let you know when I find it.

Do you have any quirky things going on in your kitchen? Or are you more traditional?

image credits: as always, either hover your mouse over the image or right click to eyeball the properties..

Friday, February 26, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

It used to be that it was hip to have a massive piece of furniture, a/k/a a television armoire or entertainment center, claiming both real estate and visual importance in your living room. Even though we all admit to loving our media equipment , and even though they now all come in flat screen and barely there components,  we still  try our best to camouflage them. Personally, I don't have a huge problem with armoires or even entertainment centers, as long as they aren't the cheap-o right out of the box almost-real-wood kind. But for many, we either don't have use for them anymore or have decided that these hulking masses are so early 21st century. If that's you, chances are you are stuck with what the heck to do with it. Since they are not the most mobile of case goods, they usually make it as far as the garage.

Then there they sit.

What to do? Here are some ideas that may help you reclaim that mighty piece in different areas of your home. If it is already being stored in your garage, half of the task is already done. Next take it a step further and put it to work for additional tool or garden storage.. Large, bulky items can be stored in the wider, open spaces. Add hooks or smaller storage bins to the cubbies for all sorts of tool storage. I realize this garden armoire is almost too pretty to use, like..with real dirt. But, you get the idea..

Create additional pantry space in your kitchen. Add hooks and shelving to hang pots and store baking trays. If there are doors on the armoire, hang a cork or whiteboard to post grocery lists or phone messages.

 Even a coat of blackboard paint comes in handy to use as a place to pass messages along to family members.. Expand on that idea and create a mail station, a hobby storage unit or computer workstation.

If you like to entertain guests, create an intimate bar area. There's plenty of storage for liquor not to mention glasses of various styles, some serving trays, etc. Paint it in whatever color and finish you like. Add some classy touches like silver trays or mirrored tiles. You could even take the bar idea outside in the summer and refinish it with weather resistant paint and varnish. Install a small refrigerator, wine cubbies and glass rack for a a very cool (and protected) outside feature. You can even install a ready made granite or slate counter top onto the main TV shelf for added function and design.

Other ideas include adding space in a guest room with a too-small closet. Add some cedar liners and then extra blankets, towels and sheets can be stored and kept fresh for use anytime. Keep a few cubbies sparse so guests can have their own storage spaces for their toiletries or change of clothing.

At our house, although I have only one son, it looks like the whole baseball team camps out at our house, gear and all. He'll be off to college in a few short months. But years ago, I should have transformed an armoire into a sports locker. By simply adding coat hooks and shelves, jackets, bats, balls, and helmets, etc would be organized and within easy reach whenever he needed to grab them. So learn by my mistakes and pull together all that sports equipment before it takes over your house.

Armoires are not alone in having a chance at repurposed lives.By thinking beyond an item's original function, you will not only save money and space at the local landfill but also enjoy a 'new' piece of furniture that offers both beauty and purpose. The possibilities are endless as far as what pieces can be reworked and how they can be used.

What are some of the repurposed projects you've undertaken? I would love to post pics of your accomplishments! Just email me with them along with a brief description and once I get a bunch together, I'll include them all in one post.

photo credits for the above: right click the image and eyeball the properties. voila!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First Impressions

Actually, your home's curb appeal is responsible for the first first impression that people get from your little piece of heaven here on earth. For the sake of this post, let's pretend the car is parked, your guest is at the front door and you've greeted them into your abode.

The following pictures are some more of my favorite things; foyers/entryways from which I would be more than eager to embrace friends and family into. All in all, regardless of how grand or how simple your foyer is, or the rest of your house for that matter, the most important element in your house is your heart. That's what makes it home.

Love all the contrasts going on here. 

 Tradition with a dash of wild.

College Bohemian  All Grown Up.

Foyer schmoyer. This is a room. A large one. 

Just plain cool.

I like shiny things.

I don't care that my ceilings are only 9ish ft high and my colors are deep orange, red, gold and green. I'm getting one of those chandeliers if it kills me. Just to have it.

So, what kinds of foyers draw you in and make you want to stay awhile?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Por Que Parquet?

Parquet flooring.


What is the first thing that comes to mind?

For many I bet words like character, warmth, desirable, amongst other lovelies come to mind.

For me, images of funky 3rd floor one room apartments with dish towel curtains targeted at financially strapped college students come flooding in to my head.

I'm all grown up now and trying so hard to be mature about this. So, can we talk? I'm sure I will offend some people when I say that I simply don't like them. Maybe it's just my personal baggage.

Now I know there are some absolutely breath-taking parquet floors out there. I've seen them. Still, they bug me. I mean, the rest of the room becomes so totally secondary to these detailed, inlaid gems. The level of craftsmanship and upkeep that these entail deserve much better than their ultimate function allows.  I feel like it's sacrilege whenever I walk on them.

With that said, there are parquets that I could live with if I had to. And those I couldn't.



Oh geez, no.

hmmmmmm maybe not. 


Nope. This would drive me nuts.

This works. I think the stain and poly saves it.

um, no. Too basket-y.

Alright. If I MUST live in this space, I'd tolerate it. :) 

Cool. Totally do-able. I'm thinking entryway.

Wow, didn't even notice the floor. So, yeah, this works just fine, too!

Sorry. Would not be able to deal with the squares.

This isn't parquet but I love the dark stain and just had to pop it in.

So, what's going on out there in real life design land? Who's with me on this and who isn't?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Yeah..that totally works!

I've been sitting around a lot this weekend with hot tea and crackers by my one side and a sniffly, sneezy hubby on my other side. We're quite the pair this weekend. But what better excuse to catch up on some DVR'd shows, flip through the piles of magazines I keep meaning to spend time with and pulling fun images off of the web?

I'm no Oprah (darn it), but I thought I would share some of my favorite things.

I should save the best for last. But I just can't.
This chandelier is made from love letters written on Japanese paper. Swoon.

Antique Chinese lantern, French 40's deco table, 50's inspired chairs.Oh my. Yes. Yes. and Yes.

And this. Love the table although I'm not sure why. Probably because the chairs that were picked to go with it are genius. Any ideas about how else this table could work?

Just my personal opinion, but separated, each piece doesn't do all that much for me. But pulled together like this, there is a magic, don't you think?.


This style chair paired with this style table creates a striking juxtaposition although I think we've all seen this kind of thing so much by now that its unexpectedness is expected . Here, I'm all about the wall decor. It's a 6 foot diameter 18th-century gilt piece that is guessed to be from an Italian church.

Now, each piece in this vignette does do something for me.A dark stained bamboo table with Louis XIII chairs covered in what looks like sculpted velvet?  Pulled all together like this it's sumptuous yet earthy. Feminine balanced with masculine (or visa versa). And that Calder-ish mobile puts me right over the edge straight into design heaven.

Well, like most, if not all of you, I have dozens of files and folders full of images like these. I could go on and on. But I think it's time for some more tea before calling it a night. Maybe tomorrow we'll take a look at  some other rooms, like foyers. I love those! Don't you?
Did you enjoy checking out those rooms? I'm sure there were elements in them that caught your eye that I missed. Let's hear about it! There's always so much to learn from each other and it's a lot of fun, too.

All images courtesy of House Beautiful

inspiration is all around even where we least expect it