a simpler sound.

Fabric Hunting on a budget: $9.99 or less.

I recently purchased my first sewing machine [we had one as a kid, but sewing machines have really come a long way!] and my first upholstery stapler [my now preferred weapon of choice].  I'm on the hunt for fabrics to start some new projects.  My favorite stomping grounds are Forsyth Fabrics and Lewis & Sheron Fabrics, both of which are located in the Westside of Atlanta, a neighborhood jam packed with everything a designer needs.  

Since I'm pretty green when it comes to sewing, I wanted to pick up some fabrics on the affordable side [so if I botch them up, I'm not throwing hundreds of dollars into the scrap pile].  This time I headed to Lewis & Sheron, and told myself I would only purchase fabrics under $10.  The projects I was shopping for were: a chair seat, bulletin board, and curtains. It's amazing how fabrics and colors can really inspire an entire room, even when on a budget! 

All four of these fabrics are $9.99/yard and coordinate so well together. Although I love using color, I'm starting to lean towards using more neutrals, and layering in interesting patterns is a great way to add interest to a neutral palette.  
I LOVE all things chevron [although too much can make me a little dizzy] and I decided to pick up a yard of the bright pink pattern, since I thought it would coordinate well with my new multi colored chevron headboard [pictures to come soon!]
I don't normally love floral fabrics, but when they're large and graphic like this, you can't go wrong.  The grape purple really resonated with me [my early childhood bedroom was COVERED in purple] so I picked up a yard and decided to go with this as my bulletin board fabric.
The Greek key is a classic pattern, while also bringing a modern flair with its geometric lines.  It was a little busy for the projects I was working on, but I could definitely see using the dark grey or linen color in some upcoming projects.

This fabric with its tiny leaf design has a really delicate quality that I like.  I could see using this as an alternative to the traditional ticking stripe.  I almost considered this for curtains, but I was worried since the fabric was a bit stiff, and might not drape well alongside my windows.  

My Living Room was selected for a color contest!

I'm excited to share here that my living room was selected for a contest on Apartment Therapy: Room for Color 2012!! I only found out late last night, and already I'm in third place in my category!  I shared this with my friends + family, but I would love to get the blog world involved too!

Check it out my room here!

If you already have an Apartment Therapy account, then voting is super simple, just click the 'favorite' button towards the bottom of my room's page [see photo below].  If you don't have an account, I know it can be a hassle to sign up, but I would be forever grateful and send you good thoughts [and cookies if you're convenient enough!].  All you need to do is click where it says 'Need an account? Sign up for free in minutes' [see below] and follow the directions.

I feel so lucky that I was picked right around the time I decide to really forge into the interior design world, and I would truly appreciate your support!  Wish me luck!

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?!

The Sweetest Fig.

The Sweetest Fig is a book penned by one of my favorite authors and illustrators, Chris Van Allsburg [made famous by The Polar Express and Jumanji]. It tells the story of a surly French dentist who performs a procedure on an old woman, and in return receives two figs.  Aside from being the most delectable fig he's ever had, the dentist discovers these figs also possess an Alice in Wonderland quality he never would have imagined. 

When I first read this book as six year old, I too thought figs would have this magical ability. Much to my dismay, when I finally tried said fig, it tasted funky [nothing like a grape, which was one of my four food groups at the time, and I expected anything purple was automatically part of the grape family] and my dreams did not in fact come true, despite what the book led me to believe...

My picky eating habits as a child kept me from figs until a few years ago, when I had some dried figs in a Moroccan dish.  I was at Whole Foods this week, and was excited to see that figs were in stock.  Black Mission figs are only found in the summer, usually in early on and then again at the end, just before fall is in full swing.  Right now they're just reaching their peak, and are perfectly jammy and sweet. I love trying both sweet and savory preparations, but they're at their best just as they are.  I like my figs on the extra ripe side, so I'm holding off on eating them for another day. 

In the meantime, I get to enjoy their rich, indigo color, much like blueberries [I happened to also buy blueberries that day, so you can see the similarity].  If you're lucky to hang out with me tomorrow, that's when I'll slice into these beauties.  And that's really something to behold.  Yum.

1. Photo: The Sweetest Fig

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. 

A Turquoise Horse in Italy.

The title speaks for itself.  Last summer, we spent a day in Verona, Italy, wandering through the cobbled side streets, admiring all the distinguished, old architecture.  While we were busy "getting lost," I was photographing some old doors and windows when I stumbled upon this sculpture of a horse, painted in the brightest turquoise. It was set in this little alcove between two alley ways.  It was such a beautiful piece of art, that was so hidden, I wondered if anyone else had seen it before [aside from the residents of the building behind it.]

I've always loved horses [though I was never a trained rider or anything] and find them to be one of the most beautiful animals, and this one flooded in a pop of color definitely put a smile on my face. 

Meet my den/living room/fireplace room?

My house isn't huge, so a lot of rooms end up being 'multi-purpose' you might say.  This room is the epitome of that.  It's the first room you enter when coming into my house, but it also doubles as a small dining room, since I took the old dining room and turned it into my living room [if you've known me over the past few years, my house is a veritable character from The Transformers; it looks one way and before you know it, it's become a completely different room]. I also have some chairs up against the window, since the room felt a little odd without anything there [and since I wrote this, those chairs have actually been swapped out for my old sofa, but that's another story]. I love this room because it has some great architectural features like the original 1930 bookcases flanking the fireplace. It's also the most colorful room in the house.  So even though it's constantly evolving, I thought I'd share a little piece of me and my home with you.

What I consider one of the best architectural features of my house: the working woodburning fireplace, original glass bookcases, and the great little bungalow windows.  It's also a perfect spot for my newest piece of art [a birthday gift from my mom].
The best Craigslist deal I ever came across: these chairs were $15.  Not $15 each. $15 for both.  I was pretty proud. The ottomans are mid century and I bought from respective thrift stores.
I just had to add this photo because Maggie was do darn cute.

People seem to love this little vignette of my teacher things: I've always organized my colored pencils and markers this way and I love using old mason jars.=

I'm so proud of my giant J! I found this at an antique store and it actually lights up, but I have to get some of the wiring fixed.  For now, it's just a symbol for Jo :) I just need to find a tiny O and I'll be complete.  You can also see two pastel pieces my Aunt did [almost all the artwork in my house is from her] The lower one is actually of me and my Mom. The above one is my favorite- reminds me of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Just a few of my books...

My little dining table that I almost never sit at, but makes a great dumping ground for my keys and bag and mail and lots of other junk!

My very discreet litter box, topped with my blue glass collection and my vintage black globe.

Some neat vases made from different mediums. Left to right: ceramic, Murano glass, recycled paper.

My front door, and my turquoise wood rack here I hang all the necessities [and display my Scrabble photo art- I need to find the site of this artist, so stay tuned for that]

Meet my living room.

I'm going to slowly introduce my little house to you.  It's constantly changing, since I'm always buying and selling furniture and moving things around.  My friends always comment about how they never know what to expect when they come over, since it's evolving weekly.

First, meet my living room.  It's the third most used room in my house [after my kitchen and screened porch], and it actually used to be a dining room.   One day I'll post the before and afters [if I can find those old photos!]. 

I initially painted this room when it was actually a dining room, so it's a little intense at times, but it photographs well and feels warm.  I used to have a rug in here, but it didn't coordinate well with everything, so I'm currently on the hunt for a good [affordable] one. The ottomans are actually a really great choice instead of a coffee table, since they're great for additional seating or just putting your feet up and relaxing. 

At the bottom, there's a rundown of where everything in my living room came from.  I bought all these things over several years and some come from my childhood home, so the total cost didn't seem too daunting. 

Sofa: Ikea [Kivik sofa + chaise, $698]
Ottomans: Home Goods [$30 each]
Side Table: Highland Row Antiques [$45]
Typewriter: Chamblee Antique Mall [$30]
Table Lamp: Pottery Barn [$99 + $25 coupon = $74]
Floor Lamp: Pottery Barn [$249 + $25 copuon = $224]
Round Pillows: Urban Outfitters [$34 each - 20% = $27 each]
Other Pillows: Pottery Barn [$75]
Double Curtain Rods: Ikea [$79]
Picture Frames: Pottery Barn [$220]
Paint: Behr Ultra Premium Plus [$60]
Drink Cart: My Favorite Place [$5] The BEST deal of all!
Paintings: Sandra Torrijos [My aunt = free!]

Total: $1624

Saturday finds: sifting through highland row antiques.

Typewriter in teal: $55
Painting of birds: $225

I have an addiction and it's one that can't be helped. I'm obsessed with sifting through antique and thrift stores.  I can't help it- there's just something about having a sea of furniture and objects from the past at my disposal that gets me giddy.  
Last weekend was the first Saturday of the month, making it the day Highland Row Antiques, one of my favorite local antique stores, hosts their monthly market.  Many vendors come and showcase furniture, their specialty typically being of the Danish mid-century modern style.  All the mint condition pieces are snapped up within the first hour, so if you're really on the market for something- get there early to first dibs!  I'm rarely ever shopping for any big pieces of furniture [though if I had some kind of storage unit, I'd buy up all my favorites and figure out how to use them later- like a hoarder would] so we usually get there sometime mid-morning.  What I've really been searching for are bookcases, but I'm so picky when it comes to larger pieces, I've yet to see anything worth even photographing.  

I did stumble upon some great pieces, all of which would make a nice vignette together.  There's a definite recurring theme of teal, black and white, with a touch of yellow.  The total for all these things rounded out to just shy of $800, the chairs and art being the bigger ticket pieces. But I think they'd all make for a fun lounge space. Figure in a side table plus some paint [say, in a light grey], and I'd have an entirely new room ready for around $1000. [I could totally do one of those HGTV-style shows]

Like this look? Take me shopping with you, and we can get any space pieced together in no time.

Tomorrow I'm heading to the monthly Scott's Antiques Market, which I've actually never been to.  It's supposedly one of the best places to get anything and everything in Atlanta, so I'm looking forward to some good finds. Happy hunting!

Small ceramic bowl with glazed teal interior: $18
White ceramic vase: $25
Glass candy dish: $12
Pair of paint-by-numbers: $68
Vintage lighted sign: $95
Pair of houndstooth lounge chairs: $300