A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Designing my new office: DIY Tack Board.

Now that I'm seriously getting into the design business, I need a dedicated space to work on projects, and one day [fingers crossed!] meet with clients.  The third bedroom of my house is located right off the front door, and is wide open to the street and our parking pad.  I can't ever legitimately using the space as a bedroom, but it makes the perfect spot for a home office.

I'm far from finished, since I still need to space plan and figure out creative ways to organize samples [fabric, buttons, countertops, and other goodies] as well as paperwork.  One thing I knew I wanted was a simple tack board to pin any important notes or samples, and have it easily accessible to my desk.

Just because I need a simple tack board in no way means it should look simple.  I thought it might be fun to try and create one myself, since even a plain old cork board can be a bit pricey [$30+ and not so attractive].  I don't have photos of the process [I threw it together so quickly, I completely forgot to document how completed it!] but here's a rundown of how to create this yourself!

Fabric Tack Board

Wood Frame: $5 [I found mine at a thrift store and it has such great vintage character]
Cardboard: FREE! [this needs to at least the size of the frame, or slightly larger.  I used a box from a mirror I ordered, but you can also find free cardboard boxes at your local liquor store]
Fabric $5 [I found this bold, graphic fabric at a great deal at Lewis & Sheron, and only needed about a half yard
Industrial Stapler $20 [of course you don't need to factor in this cost if you already own one, but I HIGHLY recommend having one of these around- they can be used for a million different projects]
nails [you likely have these around the house, and they're just pennies anyway, so no cost factor necessary here]
Hammer [I imagine you have one of these too!]

Cut 2-3 panels of cardboard to fit just beyond the opening of the frame, about a quarter inch.  This will give you enough room to attach the cardboard to the wood frame at the end.  

Cut the fabric larger than the cardboard, allowing for at least 3 inches excess on each side.

Lay your cardboard panels and fabric on top of additional cardboard or on a work surface that can take a beating [sometimes staples will make their way too far through the layers of cardboard, and could puncture your work surface, so be careful!]

Start with one corner and pull fabric taught and staple as close to the edge of the cardboard [this will ensure that if any staples punch through, this won't be visible once the board is attached to the frame]

You don't need to overdo it on the staples, maybe just one every 3 or 4 inches until you've made your way around the entire board. 

Once the board is completely covered, all that's left is to lay the board on top of the back side of the frame, and nail each corner [and a couple additional nails depending on the size of your board- for mine I used 8 nails total]

And there you have it, a beautiful, functional backboard that's customized to your exact design aesthetic! This took me only 30 minutes, and has already made such a difference in my office.

Atlanta Street Art: on The Beltline.

A small street art sign marking The Beltline. I'm beginning to see these pop up all over the city.

A couple weeks back I was finally able to snag a seat on the elusive bus tour of The Beltline.  If you're not from Atlanta, The Beltline is a major undertaking by the city with the goal of connecting the many neighborhoods of Atlanta with light rail transit while also bringing green space to neighborhoods in need of it. The entire Beltline will be over 22 miles long, becoming one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the United States!

 The tour I went on was almost three hours long, and took me to neighborhoods I never even knew existed. I tend to stick to my little bubble of Atlanta [probably within a 4 mile radius of my house], and finally after four years, I'm beginning to branch out! Here are just a few quick photos I took of some street art I found along the tour. I was able to learn a bit about some of the art, and the stories of those who created it.  It's amazing how much culture and history this city has, and how I've barely scratched the surface.

A great little walkthrough park that's flanked by a beautiful wall of art that reminds me of a Suzani textile.
This wall was painted by a Christian community center in Pittsburgh [not PA] and spans almost an entire city block.
I didn't get any information on this, but it was my absolute favorite piece.  I took a bunch of photos, but unfortunately the bus was moving so quickly, most of them were blurry and not worth posting.  I'd love to come back to it and find out the story behind it.
This wall mural was done by the community [both kids and adults] of this neighborhood [the name of which is alluding me]. It tells the history of this area, spanning from the time of Native Americans all the way to present day.

Meet my [teenage] bedroom.

I was passionate about photography and had fun displaying my photos of Hawaii along the wall in a trail.  Really graphic and fun.  

Color. Music. Posters. Art. Color. Everywhere.

I've been a 'designer' since I was a kid.  I've always been changing the spaces I inhabit, on a constant basis, and I recently found some proof of my earlier days of design mayhem.  While transferring all my digital photos onto my new computer [having everything in one place rather than fragmented on multiple external hard drives is a dream come true!], I found these photos.

This is my bedroom from my childhood home in New York.  These were actually taken sometime during my freshman year of college, somewhere between 2004 and 2005. I'm still trying to look for photos of my old college dorm rooms, because they were something to behold [I went a little overboard]. This room isn't too far off from that though, and if there's one thing you get my from my design back then, it's my personality.

Everything was perfectly laid out, strewn about the walls, and organized in a perfect chaos.  If you wanted to know what music I listened to, there was a poster for it.  If you wanted to know my favorite books or CDs, they were organized in bookcases I built into my closet. My love for Hawaii was all over the place: in tiny hula bobble heads, in floral leis, in the photography I would display. Little hints of my love for impressionist art are all over [in my calendar, in my paintings, even in my favorite Simpsons poster mimicking Georges Seurat]. My obsession with the color green was pretty obvious too.  As a kid, it was purple EVERYTHING, but I matured into a bright granny smith apple green. Now I love teal and different shades of grey [totally not a reference to the book...].

It's amazing how tastes evolve.  My style has absolutely changed over the years, but it's interesting to see how I still hold onto a certain atheistic.  

I hope you enjoy this peak into the younger Jo.  More [current] design to come...

My obsession with band art hasn't changed.  I'll admit though, it wasn't always for the right reasons. I remember loving the band in the corner, not because they were particularly great, but because I thought some of them were really cute...I was never one to put up posters of the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync, but you bet I had ones up of my punk rock bands!  I've since stopped putting up posters of boys [shocker, I know]. Here you can also see one of my favorite Salvador Dali pieces, as well as this light up art of the Brooklyn Bridge [it was a little tacky, yes, but at night I loved how it gave my room this bluish glow].

My biggest regret is not taking care of my band art the way I should have.  Most of these posters are really tattered on the edges, and some downright ruined due to the constant moving of them each year of college.  I was able to properly frame some of them, but these really bring me back...

I built these 'custom' shelves with my Mom, mostly because I didn't have enough room anywhere to house my massive CD and book collection!

I love having old pictures [check out little Jo with her awesome bowl cut bangs!] around and check out my adorable bobble heads [not sure where they are anymore, how sad!]

More of the overflow of DVDs and video equipment. I wonder where my Wiffle ball bat is these days...

I kept that vase of artificial gerber daisies around for the longest time. Now I hate the thought of fake flowers.  I love having real deal around when I can these days.  I think the daisies finally retired to my mom's work office.  And check out my old iPod! That isn't my original one, since that was actually stolen at a party the year before.  Back then who could have predicted my large succession of Apple devices to follow...
I'm not sure if I knew I was taking a picture of myself or not, but there I am at 18...where has the time gone?!

New York in Black and White.

I walked into my hotel room, and this is what I found.  Just breathtaking.
I just returned from a work trip to New York. I grew up here, so every time I return, I get such a sense of nostalgia for this great city.  I go through phases where I think I'll sell everything I have and figure out how to make my way back there. It's so beautiful and exciting and there's just no end to what you can do, see, eat, and explore.

The view from my hotel room was unbelievable.  Normally, I get a lovely [ahem, sarcasm]  view of the building directly across the street, where the most I can see is what the apartment across the way is watching on TV [I've actually watched Jeopardy through someone else's apartment window once- "Alex, I'll take Unknowingly Creepy Tendencies for $300"].

This time, we stayed on the 32nd floor of the Affinia Dumont in Murray Hill, and somehow, every building around was lower than ours, so we had a direct view of the Chrysler Building [which I find to be the most architecturally beautiful and classic buildings in Manhattan or anywhere for that matter], along with a view of the east river to my right and the Bank of America tower to my left [I actually didn't know the name of this building until I wrote this- this is currently the second tallest building in New York, after the Empire State].

As I was writing this post, I was horrified to hear that there was a shooting this morning right by the Empire State Building.  I literally just passed on this street everyday for nearly a week, so it was surreal to see the chaos happening on TV this morning. Despite moments like these, I actually feel completely safe in New York [even safer than I do in Atlanta at times] so I hate when moments like this happen, since it gives people the wrong idea about this amazing city.  

More to post about my trip to New York [including my perfect night in Little Italy!], but here are a few pictures to help give you an idea of why I love NYC so much...

The view of the Chrysler at night, taken from my hotel room.
One of my most favorite views of New York.  I love seeing the New Yorker sign juxtaposed to the Empire State Building.
This place brings back such good memories of me and my grandmother.  In the summers, we would take the bus from my neighborhood in Queens over to Macy's, and we would walk together, arm in arm, admiring all the pretty things.  I miss that so much.

Just a random parking sign, but I loved the detail of the bricks next to the big, graphic letters.

Meet my desk. [before and after]

My desk is too big for my own good [even though it's such a lovely green, I like to refer to it as the HULK]. If I don't keep it completely organized, it falls into utter chaos [it's like I'm bi-polar: half the time I'm OCD and aligning my writing implements just-so, the other half I'm a complete slob, wondering if the clothes piled on my chair are clean or dirty- it really depends on what day of the week you catch me, and if laundry day has recently passed]. 

It quickly becomes a dumping ground for clothes, receipts, post-it notes, to do lists, and so on. Here is the after: simplified and organized.  There's a combination of essentials and decorative pieces, which I really like [I mean, not everything has to have a function-sometimes things are just pretty]. Think minimalist with a bit of flair.

Some of my favorite things: my two dalmatians [I've had the pair since I was a kid and I've always adored them], my favorite pendant [I got it in San Francisco a few years back because it looks just like my dog Kona], my lucky die [have I ever mentioned how irritating I find the singular form of dice?] and my name [well, nickname].  These sit on an agate, back from my rock collecting days.

I keep the bare essentials in my writing utensil holder: two pairs of scissors [hand forged in India by a tailor- they've got a great story attached to them, and happen to be the best scissors I've ever used, which says a lot coming from a lefty], two pencils [old school style only], blue pen, black pen, black sharpie and a star letter opener [someone must have given this to me as a gift, since it has my initials on it, but for the life of me I can't remember who- sorry if it was you!].

Yes, there's a little English teapot, short and stout sitting on my desk.  No, I don't use it for making tea since it's actually a collectors item I got in London when I was ten [I was a huge anglophile back then, speaking in an English accent an embarrassing amount of the time [I blame this movie- damn you Lindsay Lohan!]. Now I'm all about Team USA].  Here you can also see my 'Thank You' art, that I haven't quite found a home for yet, but at least it reminds me to be polite.  The wire bin is for incoming mail, 95% of which gets thrown away anyhow. 

I like keeping my Prismacolor set out and handy, for whenever I'm feeling a little artistic.  The bin behind them is a Missoni for Target, and that's where I stick all the things I don't know what to do with or just don't have the energy to put away [I'm working on NOT filling that little bin].

This may look messy to you, but I threw out an entire trash can full of junk from this drawer before it looked like this. It's organized clutter: rather than keep my makeup out on a dresser or on the desk [my bathroom is too small to hold anything], I have everything compartmentalized in here [it's very efficient I promise].  I also keep the basic necessities here [battery chargers, notebooks, stamps, envelopes, checkbooks, etc.], so as long as I don't start throwing things in willy nilly, the disaster site should stay contained. 

I found my Moleskine grid journal, where I sketch out designs.  Here's a rough sketch of my kitchen, before I built it three years ago.  You can also see my Ray Ban case [never know when I'll need to rock my aviators for that bad ass look...] as well as my measuring tape [you'd be shocked at how often I whip that thing out] and my lined yellow notepad with appropriate flair pen, both of which are used to make the never ending to-do lists, or for writing down quotes.

Just in case you were curious what the process of 'organizing' looks like, here it is.  It isn't pretty. So the next time you're at my house, come check out my desk, and see if it looks like photo at the top of the page, or the one above.  More likely, it'll be something in the middle, but I'm trying my darndest to keep it like the former.