a simpler sound.

2013: T-minus 12 days to HOME-A-GEDDON!

I've been out of pocket for TWO months now, and it feels like just a blip on the calendar, even though so much has happened!  

Since my last post, I

...traveled to Germany to visit family
...with a side trip to Paris [posts on my travels to follow]
...traveled to New York for work
...helped good friends move into their new, beautiful home
...with some design consultation and business planning on the side
...AND raised a completely adorable puppy named Watson [he's a handful, but a lovable one!]

What's preoccupied my time more than anything else has been the process of designing an entirely new house [well not exactly, but pretty darn close].  

From initial conception, to architectural plans, to re-designing [again and again and then one more time], to permitting [and praying], to slowly packing away the house, to scouting and purchasing plumbing, lighting, tile, furniture, floors, fabrics, to...

12 days [or maybe a few days sooner!] from now, the contractor and his crew will set up camp to: demolish, rebuild, add on, and [hopefully!] finish my house.  The planned completion date is sometime in June [fingers and toes and legs and arms crossed that we stick to this deadline!]. That's FOUR months of mayhem!

One of my favorite places in the world will be completely transformed, nearly doubling the size of my house! I don't think I've been more excited and engrossed [and terrified!] by anything quite so much as this project. I know things will get worse before they get better, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end.

Stay tuned...

What I've been [REALLY] busy doing...whole house renovation anyone?

I don't exactly know how it started, but it's been on my mind since I bought my house four years ago.  Being an early 20th century craftsman bungalow, my home has got oodles of charm and character, but not much in the way of space.  I always knew going up and finishing my attic space was part of the plan, since it was a major selling feature of my house with its unusually high ceilings [most attics, you're lucky to even stand upright in them, and my attic has 13+ foot ceilings...not too shabby].  

I was in the running for being part of a major HGTV renovation a few months back, and their plan was in fact to renovate the attic, which would have been amazing.  Unfortunately, we didn't make the cut.  But the idea was now implanted, and the cogs in my head were turning at such a rapid rate, I couldn't help but try and see if I could pull off this project myself.  

The biggest impetus for going big is my home is now becoming a family compound, where my Mom will also live long term, and hopefully other family members will come and stay over the years.  I also like to play imaginary big family [yeah, I'm TOTALLY Ted from How I Met Your Mother]. In the meantime, my brood consists of my two dogs and two cats [I think my only child syndrome is at fault for this]. 

Since I'm [sort of] an interior designer these days, I've been HEAVILY involved with this project.  I actually had a significant hand in the design of the attic renovation, as well as the small addition on the back end of the house [the part of the renovation that is turning out to be what I'm most excited about!] 

Even though I'm not a licensed architect or interior designer, I was able to work very closely with my architect, sending him scale drawings of what I had in mind, and he's now finishing up the final construction plans. Upon approval by the city [fingers crossed], the construction will begin as early as mid January [SO exciting, but slightly terrifying!] so I've been working 'round the clock, making decisions about plumbing and lighting and woodwork and space planning and AHH!  We've had many sleepless nights about this project, but it will dramatically change our lives for the better once completed. 

Check out the preliminary design plans above, though they've changed here and there, because I'm constantly coming up with new ideas and creative ways to make the house more functional and beautiful.  Over the coming months, I can't wait to take you through the entire process of this renovation. Hopefully by April [our predicted completion date], I'll have something my family and I can truly be proud of.

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.

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!

Retro + Vintage finds: Highland Row Antiques.

After Highland Row Antiques took off for a couple months from their usual first Saturday furniture extravaganza, I was so excited to see it back this October! I really have no need for any new furniture at the moment, so I knew this trip would be a tough one.  Restraint can be a real challenge, especially when I come across a good deal. I was SO close to making it out the door without a single purchase.  But I ultimately caved and snagged a chair that every other person was coveting [that's part of the thrill of these sales!].  It's now my favorite chair in the entire house! Here's a brief overview of some pieces I photographed.

Retro desk with a great pop of color, $175.  This could be used in a teen room or it could be dressed up to be part of a more adult space.  Who doesn't love apple green?
I'm on the hunt for a place to store fabric samples, and this vintage metal card catalog would fit the bill, it was just a little pricey at $150.
I absolutely loved the pattern on this vintage wingback chair.  The back of the chair was upholstered in a contrasting light green velvet. I don't have a spot for them now, but I would LOVE to have these, $285 for the pair.
I came across this bin of random fabrics, some that had old Hawaiian shirt designs, others that had Dr. Seuss characters. They would all make great framed wall art for a kids room! Prices varied, but they were very reasonable.
Another great pair of chairs, this time with a more Danish modern flair.  The fabric was actually really interesting, and had a great color palate, but they would make a really simple reupholstery job, $145 for the pair.
Despite my better judgement, I ended up buying a piece of furniture anyway! I just had to have this retro lounge chair [if it isn't obvious yet, I have a thing for chairs...] It has a solid wood frame, and a great sloped design with button tufting in the army green upholstery. You just don't see furniture pieces like this everyday with such unique lines. It was priced at just $85 because the upholstered section of the chair wasn't properly attached to the wood frame.  Once I took a look at it and knew I could fix it, I was sold.  On top of the fact, it seemed like a really plausible project for my foray into reupholstery, but for the meantime, it is THE most comfortable  chair in my house, hands down.

Restaurant Designs I love: Chaps.

I was introduced to Chaps last Christmas while I was visiting family in Spokane, Washington.  It's known for having amazing food and a really unique design.  Driving up to the front of the restaurant, I was completely blown away.  It's without a doubt the most eclectic, interesting establishment I've ever set my eyes on.  I literally took over a hundred photos of every nook and cranny of this place [even numerous photos of the bathroom- it was THAT good!] and it would take me several posts just to give you the official tour.  The place was made even more famous by a visit from Guy Fieri and his Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives [you can proof in the last photo].  This place has been impeccably curated by owner Celeste Shaw.  I had the privilege of meeting Celeste and chatting with her about her restaurant and design aesthetic, since it's very similar to my own.  Here are a  few photos I took upon entering Chaps [there's MANY more that I'll share later on]. 

Who would have thought to use the pages from old books and music as wallpaper?! 

Such a great use of vintage plates and platters in an arrangement over the fireplace.

Yes, that's a random old child's play kitchen.

Love the use of old frames around playing cards. 

Guy Fieri's stamp of approval.

Upcoming projects...

I've been a bad blogger. I haven't been keeping up with things for a while and I'm full of good excuses. I took a few days off to visit a good friend in Charlotte [what a great little city with such beautiful architecture!] and had entirely too much fun hunting for furniture deals.  I even took home a new desk and demilune table [both of which are too messy to photograph right now, so they'll get their proper introduction soon enough.] 

Some of my furniture purchases [both for myself and for my friends] were inspired by a new book I just finished reading, Good Bones, Great Pieces.  Design books are my version of porn [so addictive, and I just keep buying more], but this one was a class act.  It gave me great insight on specific pieces of furniture, and how having these few essentials can really bring together the design of any room.

What's really kept me completely busy has been my foray into a new business venture.  I have so many things I'm passionate about, but not always is it possible to turn them into careers.  I'm giving a truly concerted effort at my next phase, which is interior design.  I've really been a 'designer' since I was a kid, so it's really not a surprise I'm giving this a shot.  But there's only so many times I can rearrange the furniture in my house, repaint my own walls, and buy and sell my own furniture on Craigslist...

More than anything, I'd love to bring my talents to the homes [or apartments, or other personal spaces] of others! The business license is getting underway, and I just sent in for my business cards [and totally splurged on the stickers and magnets- I mean who doesn't want a magnet with their name on it?!]  It's certainly a work in progress, and I've got a long way to go [any great web designers out there want to help a struggling small business out?!], but I'm looking forward to this new adventure.  Here's a sneak peak at one side of my business card [and no, the email address and website listed on it don't work yet- but I do own the domain!]

Over the next few months, I'm going to be working heavily on my portfolio, so if you have a project you'd like help on right now, I would LOVE to be a part of it, free of charge! [But yes, eventually, I will have to start charging for things like this, since a business isn't really a business unless you're making some profit!]  For now, you can contact me at asimplerdesign@gmail.com!

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?!

Meet my attic.

I never had an attic growing up in New York, but was always intrigued by them.  I so badly wanted to have one, so that I could have a secret hiding place; a little spot all to my own, where I could stash my favorite things. Basically, I was looking for a tree house, but being in New York where having a tree was even more rare, the dream of an attic would suffice.

I never got that attic [I did have a pretty deep closet that I treated as such], so when I was house hunting here in Atlanta four years ago, one of the first places I thought to look was in the attic.  The neighborhoods I was focused on were made up of old craftsman bungalows from the 20s and 30s, so an attic was a guaranteed perk. I always pictured attics to be cozy; a space where you could just manage to crawl in and sit curled up next to a window, peering out at the rest of the world. And most of the houses I visited had fairly small attics, or at least ones where you could barely stand up straight without bumping your head.  

When I came to this house [the home I now live in], I was shocked when I made my way up the rickety ladder staircase.  This attic was cavernous.  With the exception of a few areas of pitched roof, the ceilings were even higher than the first floor! The previous owner had put down some plywood flooring in parts, so you could essentially walk around the entire attic, which spanned the entire space of the first floor.  I immediately saw the potential this space held, and that along with the size of the kitchen [every other house had an incredibly tiny kitchen- and this house had one nearly twice the size of any other, something essential to an avid cook] had me sold on this house. 

The passage into the attic is a little precarious: a 'staircase' unfolds from the ceiling, but after some finagling of the ladder joints, you can fairly easily climb your way into the attic space. 

For it being an unfinished space with minimal windows, there's quite a bit of light up here.  I would imagine if windows were situated on all four walls, the space would be infinitely brighter.  

The nook with this small window is the front face of my house, and the perfect spot for that reading nook I always dreamed of.  Plus, it's got the perfect bird's eye view of everything happening on my street.  

Here you can see where the fireplace chimney continues from the first floor.  This would such a great feature to have exposed if [and when?!] I renovate this space.  You can also see an area boarded up where I would imagine a window used to be. When I look at my house from the outside, the siding completely covers this area, so I had no idea a window ever existed until I made my way up here. This is the highest peak of the roof, and here you can see how the ceilings just soar, probably close to 20 feet at its apex. 

I love warm tones of the wood in this space.  I don't think there's a way of keeping that exposed, since in order for it to be usable and livable, it needs insulation [something sorely lacking in this attic!] so for now, I can pretend I'm in my own personal log cabin when I'm up here.  Right now, all it's used for is storage for luggage and a few other things, but I can picture this becoming so much more.  The previous owner actually left some rough design plans for this attic space, and they turned it into a massive master bedroom and bathroom, with an extra office or bedroom space.  That would be a huge transformation, so for now, a girl can dream...

Saturday Antique Finds.

Mason Jars, $12-22 each

This Labor Day weekend was a both busy and relaxing one.  I went to a friend's bachelorette party and wedding, started prepping for painting several rooms at my house [I'm probably painting as you read this], did some restaurant reviewing and antiquing, and even took a day trip down to Serenbe farm. This post, I'll just show you a few antique finds from Highland Row Antiques, all of which are affordable and would make great additions to any home or apartment.

I've always had a soft spot for mason jars.  These are extra special, since there's a variety of colors.  They make a simple home for tea lights, and can bring warmth and light to a porch or dinner table.  

Metal Garden Chair Seating for 4, $225

These metal garden chairs are actually really comfortable, and can easily be sprayed in any color to give them a new life.  

Hanging Light Fixture, $30

I had a little bit of deja vu when I saw this hanging light [did I maybe post about this before?]. It's a metal fixture, so it has an industrial look, but this is softened by the warm white paint color.  I would love to use this in a kitchen over an eating area, but it could also be used in a bedroom or office for some overhead accent lighting.

Art Deco Vanity, $185

I really need to find a good excuse to buy this vanity.  It's a great little piece, and has so much character.  What's even better is it's fully functional, with all the drawers working perfectly [that isn't always the case with old furniture like this].

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]

Alternative to a Jewelry Box.

I love my old house. It's got so much charm, and it's cozy.  Cozy can get to be a little cramped, though, especially when it comes to my bedroom.  I've got just enough room for a bed, nightstand, dresser and desk.  Things are a bit tight, so I have to come up with some quirky ways to save space.  One way to save on surface space is through hanging up jewelry 'box.' 

I had a couple tack boards lying around that I never used, so I played around with a design, and in no time, had most of my jewelry hung up.  I like how the jewelry boards look up against the other art in my wall collage.  It breaks it up and gives it some dimension.  

There are some downsides to this set up.  For starters, if you have any particularly heavy jewelry, when you remove it to wear, that can sometimes shift the balance in how the board hangs on the wall [though I probably just need to secure it better]. Also, in having jewelry displayed this way, you really need to put things back exactly the way you found them, because everything basically fits like a puzzle. 

I love a good wall collage and adding a bit of jewelry to it only ups the interesting factor.  

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

My favorite things: Heath Ceramics.

Bud Vase: $22
I have a weird obsession with bowls.  I just love a good cereal bowl that's deep and fits perfectly in the grasp of your hand.  I really respond to ceramics that have a nice, earthy quality to them; nothing too polished. Therein lies my obsession with Heath Ceramics.

I was in San Francisco three years ago when I first discovered the line. I was at the Ferry Building Marketplace, buying my favorite Cowgirl Creamery Cheese, when I stumbled upon the Heath stall. Everything was bathed in cream, robins egg blue and spring green.  I would have bought the entire collection outright, but I suppose buying hundreds [or thousands by the looks of it] of dollars worth of ceramics and then lugging it all the way back to Atlanta, just didn't seem like the best [or most economically sound] idea. 

Their ceramics are so simple. They have this mission style / craftsman quality to them that I adore. I'm really partial to the matte finish on many of their pieces.  I also like the subtle color change between the inside and outside of the pottery.

I'm planning on getting a few of the bud vases [not sure in which color[s] yet].  I like them because they're on the short side, so they're perfect for adding fresh flowers or greens to my kitchen island, dining table, or coffee table, without detracting from the view of the person sitting across from me. I also love how affordable the bud vase is [at least comparatively to other pieces in the line]. 

I won't try and pretend Heath is cheap; but you're absolutely getting what you pay for.  They're an American made ceramic that's been carefully hand crafted since 1948.  Not to mention they're microwave, dishwasher and oven safe, and I love anything that's really versatile.  These are pieces that will last a lifetime.  

If I could redecorate my entire kitchen, I'd fill it with Heath ceramics, and change out my tile backsplash to any one of these.  [My birthday isn't for another ten months, but it's never too early to throw out hints!]
Deep Serving Bowl: $60
Pitcher: $70

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

Musings on a nightstand: water and writing.

I figured out why I decided to share my nightstand with you.  I mean really, how long can a  person wax poetic about a lamp? [in my case, quite a bit] In reality, I think this might actually give you a little insight into me and my quirky habits, some of which may become recurring themes here, and others I may try to repress and plead plausible deniability that they were ever shared with you.  Think of this as 'show-and-tell' for adults. [I LOVED show and tell in kindergarten- I'm pretty sure this habit of mine traces that far back, maybe even further]

Rather than repeat the same photo I took of the nightstand [with the addition of helpful numbers, just in case you get confused between the glass of milk and a flower- these things are tricky] I figured you could just refer back to the previous post, or use a little imagination.

2. Water: I'm always thirsty, and being parched reaches its all-time high when I'm asleep.  I have an irrational fear of being without water, or really any drink [insert image of the little girl in the M. Night Shyamalan classic, 'Signs' with her 37 glasses of water strewn about the house]. The water pictured here is a rather large bottle of Acqua Panna, the self-proclaimed 'finest still mineral water.' I've never been one who can really taste the difference between obscenely expensive water and water that's free. I'm pretty sure I started refilling this bottle with tap a long time ago, so don't take me for a water connoisseur.

3. 5-Year Journal: I have to be the world's worst diary/journal keeper.  Since I was just a little Jo, I was obsessed with these wonderful, tiny books that held the potential of keeping your deepest secrets under lock and key. I probably had a whole box full of diaries. I could also probably count the number of pages I wrote on with two hands.  Then came the 5-Year Journal, a perfect device for someone like me since all it requires is one brief line about your day.  I've even went so far as to jot down just one word [it still counts!].  This one is a particular favorite of mine since it's filled with Jane Austen quotes that I adore. [I'm that girl who re-reads Pride and Prejudice yearly and watches the movies any chance I get...]

4. Music Journal:  I have no issues filling the pages of this book.  Since I was twelve, I've had a penchant for writing down lyrics from my favorite songs.  They usually had to do with some boy who I thought was just the BEST [but later would probably find him to be the WORST...the trappings of young love].  Fourteen years later, this exercise has become much more therapeutic, and is far less about silly boys, and much more about music that moves me, or reminds me of my past [or future?].  Usually, I just have a standard journal that I'll fill every inch of, but while I was in L.A. this past March, I found a bonafide *Moleskine music journal, which has proved to be very useful. Lyrics are so often overlooked, that it feels right to give them a place to 'speak.' 

5. Writing implements: simple enough, but I have specific tastes when it comes to these sorts of things. I always like to keep a #2 pencil [old-school yellow preferred] and a flair pen in navy or army green or black. [I told you I was specific!]

*fun fact: I've always pronounced Moleskine the way you would pronounce molester [it sounds even more inappropriate when pronounced by this British man] and it's a habit I have trouble breaking- so no, I don't have a molester journal, and no, I'm not a pervert...

a girl's nightstand holds all her secrets.

Maybe not all her secrets...if that were the case, anyone who entered my home would be privy to the whole of it, and that wouldn't be very wise on my part.  What you will find are several items that are essential to my nightly routine. 

When I took this photo, I was having one of those 'everything looks like art' kind of days, where I'll take 30+ photos of random objects in my house or while I'm out on a walk with the dog. [I know I've gone too far when even the garbage bin I throw her 'business' in has an interesting form..]  This compulsion doesn't stop when I'm lying in bed, which is how the 'nightstand series' came to be.  Initially, this was just going to be one post about the objects next to my bed. What was seemingly going to be a brief exercise, has become rather lengthy, so I'll post a bit each day to give you a glimpse into my life. 

The 'composition' starts with a round, white pedestal table I found at an antique store for $25 [$22.50 with my all cash discount- a fairly standard deal at these sorts of places, and every penny counts!] while I was staying on Amelia Island back in November. It's a little wobbly, partly because my 1930s wood floors have lots of 'character' [an endearing term for uneven] and partly because it's a twenty-something dollar table. It's got a great, wide top, which helps me ignore any flaws in design. 

Set atop the white 'canvas' are ten objects that are invariably always there. 

1. Lamp: I'm so particular when it comes to lighting. I have this weird aversion to overhead lights. Even more-so, I loathe the harsh wash of fluorescent bulbs. I know, I know- this is terribly anti-environment of me, but I'll rant about this more another time.  This lamp has a dark, coffee shade, which bathes my bedside in a warm glow.  This object is also essential for my reading and writing, since other than the local coffee shops, this is the only place I do those two tasks. [I'm sitting in bed as I write this, with four pillows propped up against my back- don't judge, it's all very professional...]

Stay tuned for more musings on my nightstand [trust me, things get really interesting by #4, I promise...]