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Little Anna

I didn’t really feel like blogging last week, in part because it was a week of several very sad events around the world, but also because I’ve been filled with an enormous amount of self-doubt after posting photos of my backsplash makeover. That might sound ridiculous, but the closing sentences from that post are really what set me off:

An unexpected side effect of working on this project is that I really feel like painting. Not painting houses, but painting stuff. I feel like designing wallpaper, too. And pillows. And blankets. And everything, really.

Right. So I established the fact that I want to do things, but I am still not doing those things. Last weekend I even went to buy some supplies — paints, brushes, canvases, etc. Until yesterday, they were sitting untouched in my living room. I finally got sick of seeing them out of the corner of my eye, though, so I moved them to the kitchen. Where they are sitting. Untouched.

When I was a kid (and by “kid” I mean birth through age 20), all I did was paint and draw and make stuff with my hands. Both of my parents are artists. I grew up in an environment where expressing myself visually wasn’t just encouraged, it was the norm. That was just what you did. When it came time to go to college, I thought I was rebelling when I became an English Lit major — a terrible mistake, of course, and eventually I transferred to the Fine Arts program. I took lots of drawing and printmaking classes, but my concentration was in Graphic Design/Book Arts…and that’s where I wound up putting in the majority of my focus. By the time I was a senior, I was pretty much holed up in front of a computer all the time. I started my job as a book cover designer within weeks of graduating, and I’m still at that same job now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a graphic designer. I love what I do for a living, and I really do believe it’s exactly what I should be doing, but I always thought I’d eventually make room in my life for stuff that isn’t specifically for a client or a product. I don’t even necessarily mean stepping away from the computer entirely, I just mean working on things where I am the “client.”

You know what? IT’S REALLY HARD. Not having a specific purpose or goal in mind creatively is like paddling in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight. Where do you start? Who is going to give you approval? What is the product you’re trying to sell? And wouldn’t it have been easier to have just stayed on the boat?

On the other hand, I guess all of the work I’ve been doing on my house for the past 7 years is client-free creative work, right? Not really, though — at the end of the day, I guess the house is the client. There’s still a goal.

It comes down to this: I need to be pushing myself more creatively, and not because someone is telling me to. My fear of making ugly things and failing miserably is pretty intense, but what’s the worst that can happen? There is no worst. Best case scenario? I actually wind up liking my work without anyone’s approval, and maybe there will be a few other people out there who like it, too. What more can you ask for?

p.s. I need to go back and re-read this post I wrote last year about advice from Chuck Close. And then I need to actually listen to him.

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Photo by Weekday Carnival

I’ve been a fan of twinkly strings of lights for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, strings of Christmas lights stayed up in my bedroom all year long, and these days Patrick Townsend’s String Light sits waiting for me to find the right spot for it (I will, I will). I love the ambiance they add to a room — maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia for the feeling of holidays when I was a child, I don’t know.

Lately I’ve been really coveted a strand of Glödlampsslinga lights from the Swedish company Granit. They don’t ship to the US and as far as I know there’s no distributor for them here, so I’m relegated to admiring them from afar for now. If I ever get my act together and make a trip to Sweden (a.k.a. “the motherland” — I haven’t been there since I was 8 years old!), that’s at the very top of my shopping list. I have a couple of cheap-o sets of outdoor globe string lights in my garden, but they just don’t have the nice heft and presence of these black rubber-corded ones. Someday!

In the mean time, here are a bunch of the photos I’ve been saving of Granit’s Glödlampsslinga in other people’s homes. I hope you like them, too.

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Photos by (1) Regines kreativiteter, (2) Hannah’s Room for Plaza Interiör, (3) Elv’s blog, (4) Dusty Deco

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Photo by Frida Ramstedt for Trendenser

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Photos by (1) & (2) Mokkasin, (3) Fredrik Karlsson with styling by Sarah Widman, (4) A Merry Mishap

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Photo by Deborah from Ollie & Seb’s Haus for A Merry Mishap

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Photo of designer/stylist Susanna Vento’s home by Petra Bindel for Dwell (see more of Susanna’s home at Varpunen!)

You want a strand now too, am I right? Well, if you’re in Sweden (or have a nice friend there who likes to send you things!), you’re in luck! For those of us in the US, though, here are some other options…

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1. Glodlampsslinga, Granit / 449 kr
2. String Lights, onefortythree / $125 (coming soon)
3. Vintage Metro String Lights, Brookstone / $94.99
4. Vintage Light String, Restoration Hardware / $152 (on sale)

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Photo from Fjeldborg

It’s been such a long time since I posted a round-up of white floors! After spending the weekend doing some serious spring-cleaning at my house (Did you see my to-do list, by the way? Almost everything got crossed off!), I’m really feeling like I have to make the time to paint the second-story floors WHITE. They are so dingy, damaged and discolored, and they can’t be sanded down. I already painted the floor in the back room (uh, four years ago), and I meant to keep going into the other rooms, but I just…haven’t…gotten…to…it.

Between the high I’m on from completing so many tasks over the weekend and this latest batch of photos, though, I think I can feel it happening soon. I mean I bet I could get one room done each weekend! Or half a room. Or a quarter. I have to divvy it up, though, because I guess I’ll have to move all of the furniture out of the room and into another one while I do it, right? See, this is where I start to feel lazy. In the mean time…

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Photo from Fjeldborg

On a side note, how nice are those black cabinets? I love that the handles are the same color. Fjeldborg is such a pretty blog.

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Home of Majbritt and Jesper Johansen of DesignUnit / Photo by Gaelle Le Boulicaut for Elle Decoration

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Home of Majbritt and Jesper Johansen of DesignUnit / Photo by Gaelle Le Boulicaut for Elle Decoration

Same room, two different angles. So peaceful. Everything about this space is perfect (I’d probably spoil it with a rug, though). I especially love the side-by-side black & white Eames LTR tables. And what kind of tree is that?

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Photo via emmas designblogg

Can you believe this is a Swedish real estate photo of a home that was styled to be sold? Amazing. Not really the kind of thing you’d ever see on an episode of Sell This House.

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Johan Sellén for ELLE Interiör

This reminds me of my bedroom at the house! Now imagine my bedroom minus the orange floor (that wood looks so much better in photos than it does in real life, seriously). SO MUCH BETTER.

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Johan Sellén for ELLE Interiör

See how there are boards intersecting at a weird angle on this floor? No idea why it’s like that, but I love it. The upper-level floors in my house were put in at different times, and they’ll all arranged in different patterns/cut styles. I actually think that painting the floors white will make that more apparent, because the gaps between the boards would really show.

I’ve had these photos from British Standard saved in my kitchen inspiration folder for almost a year after spotting them on Remodelista, but I forgot about them until I started thinking about painting the cabinets in the kitchen of our new apartment. That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon (for starters, I’d definitely have to ask the landlord first, and I’m waiting for him to fall in love with us as tenants before I start bringing up that kind of stuff), but now I can’t get this kitchen out of my head!

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

LOOOOOOOOOOVE. I mean beyond the inset, flush-mount doors (you don’t see those much in contemporary kitchens!), the exposed copper piping, the door latches and the wooden countertops, how amazing is that paint job?! It’s like the entire bottom third of the room was dipped in black paint. I love that it even goes right across the upper cabinets! So, so good.

Plain English (who make incredible kitchen cabinets that I’ve coveted for ages) created their lower-priced British Standard sister line as part of an apprenticeship in building skills program for the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. A custom-fitted Plain English line will run you at least £50,000 (gulp), but the no-frills, off-the-shelf British Standard cabinets cost about a tenth of that. They’re intended to be painted by the owner, which is good if the black-dipped thing isn’t for you for some crazy reason.

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

One more thing: You know I can’t resist doing a recreation of this kitchen using stuff that’s readily available in the US, right? Yeah. I’m going to leave out the sausage links, though.

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WHAT HAVE I DONE? Haha, this took forever. Geez, now I really want to do something like this in the apartment kitchen! That’s what happens when it’s 1AM and you can’t sleep…you wind up badly Photoshopping paint onto IKEA cabinets. Seriously, though, this would look pretty great. You could easily do something like this with existing cabinets, too—take down a few uppers, paint the cabinets, add new hardware. Wood paneling is really cheap and easy to work with, and it’s a nice alternative to tile in kitchens and bathrooms—just make sure to prime both sides before installing it. We used it in our downstairs bathroom (though not in the shower area, obviously), going a full 8′ up the wall instead of stopping at the usual wainscot/chair rail height.

1. EverTrue unfinished pine wall paneling
2. AKURUM/Ädel wall cabinet with glass doors, IKEA
3. AKURUM/Ädel base cabinet with drawers, IKEA
4. Rohl apron front sink
5. Rohl brass wall-mounted faucet
6. NUMERÄR birch countertop, IKEA
7. Esse Ironheart cook stove (I’ll bet this stove is a nightmare, but gosh…so pretty)
8. Factory Light No. 7 cable pendant, Schoolhouse Electric
9. Steel cabinet latch, House of Antique Hardware
10. Half moon cup pull, House of Antique Hardware
11. Coconut bristle and dust pan, West Elm
12. Fleet hot orange chair, CB2

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Have you seen the new collection from Ferm Living? I’m almost as much in love with it as I was with their fall/winter 2012 collection. As far as I’m concerned, the highlight are all of the Half Moon-patterned things—a perfect storage basket, a laundry bag, cylinder/bolster cushions in neon (!) and black, and my favorite piece in the whole collection…the shower curtain!! I wonder if it would be too much in my tiny downstairs bathroom?

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The Half Moon wallpaper is also on my wish list. I’m kind of running out of walls to put wallpaper on, but maybe inside of a closet? Hmmm…there’s no wallpaper in the guest bedroom yet. Maybe on the walls to the left and right of the fireplace?

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Excuse the terrible Photoshopping, but I had to see how cute it could look! The answer is very cute. Hmmm. HMMMMM.

Barcelona kitchen

Yeah, I could live there is a not-so-semi-new, occasional D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today I’m specifically planning to move into a kitchen in Barcelona designed by Daniel Perez and Felipe Araujo of Egue y Seta studio.

Yes, I could live in a kitchen—as long as it’s this kitchen. I mean…

Barcelona kitchen

Barcelona kitchen

Barcelona kitchen

HOW CAN IT BE SO PERFECT?! The floor tiles!!! I’ve seen these Q*bert-esque cement tiles in use before, but never on this kind of scale and never with results quite at this level of breathtaking. It’s not just the floor tiles, though, it’s everything. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. I’m ready to set up a little bedroll in the corner and make myself at home.

DETAILS:
✚ Interior design by Daniel Perez and Felipe Araujo of Egue y Seta studio
✚ See more photos of this amazing house at Micasa and at Egue y Seta

I got so inspired by these photos that I even put together my own little collage (please don’t make me call it a “mood board”). I’m seriously wondering if there’s some way I can find a place to use those tiles in MY kitchen! Doing the whole floor would be crazily expensive, but maybe a tiled doormat by the back door or something like that? That could happen.

Fantasy kitchen!

1. American Olean 3×6″ subway tiles
2. Francis Francis X1 espresso machine
3. HEKTAR pendant lamp, IKEA
4. Design Workshop rolling cart, West Elm Market
5. Eames DAX armchair
6. Vintage cast iron pot, Hindsvik
7. Mt Whitney table, Blake Avenue
8. Cubes geometric cement tile, Villa Lagoon

Kitchen spotted via Desire to Inspire (thanks to Tina for the tip!)

Photograph by Ben Baker

A little more than a week after at least 50 million of us were affected by Hurricane Sandy, Americans are about to go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a very important presidential election at a pivotal point in our history as a nation. We are working against widespread voter suppression—yes, in 2012—grounded in racism and classism, and so much is at stake. This election isn’t just about President Obama’s policies over the next four years, it’s about the fact that there are currently four seated Supreme Court justices in their 70s. Whoever wins this election will likely nominate a new justice, and therein lies the future of our civil rights.

LISTEN UP: Whatever you believe about the U.S. economy and what can and should be done to fix it, we simply cannot legislate away our rights in the mean time. This is not a joke. This is not feeding clichéed lines about choosing the “lesser of two evils.” This is about doing our duty as American citizens to protect each other and ensure that future generations will live in a country with all of the freedoms they deserve. This is about saying NO to hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about what I wanted to write in this post, but it occurred to me that so much of what I’m feeling is so closely aligned with what my (sensitive, insightful, passionate, well-spoken) friend Daniel wrote on his blog a few days ago…so I’ll let him say it for me. Here’s an excerpt:

I know people who are voting for Republicans. Some of these people I even count as friends. When I talk to them about it, the general response seems to be that they don’t “personally” support discrimination, even if discrimination is central to Republican social policy. Let me be clear: there is nothing more personal than a vote. By voting for Mitt Romney, you are casting a vote for discrimination. You are casting a vote against me, against my family, against equality, against fairness, against love, against freedom, against the promise of liberty and justice for all. A vote for this Republican party, as it stands in 2012, is a vote for discrimination. You are complicit in it, you are supporting it, you are perpetuating it. There is no other way to look at it, and it’s truly heartbreaking to see people I otherwise respect blind to this fact.

The choice in this election couldn’t be clearer, and not just on this issue. It’s the difference between a president who cares about the future of our education system, our public sector workers, and the social programs that attempt to keep those in need afloat, versus a party who doesn’t. It’s the difference between a president who has regained much of our respect in the world and has a proven record of successful foreign policy experience, versus a candidate with no experience, Bush’s foreign policy advisors, and reckless and wildly inconsistent ideas about the rest of the world. It’s the difference between a president who supports rights for women to receive equal pay for equal work, to have access to contraception, and to seek a safe and legal abortion if necessary, versus a party who would deny all of these rights. It’s a choice between a President who has dug this economy out of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression versus a party who wants to return to the policies that caused the collapse in the first place. It’s the choice between a president who regards global warming as a real and tangible threat versus a party who thinks the climate change is a hoax, a joke, or both. It’s the difference between a president who doesn’t think you should go broke or die because of medical costs, versus a party that sees only the bottom line for the insurance industry. It’s the choice between a president who believes in equality versus a party who believes so profoundly in discrimination that they would amend our Constitution to reflect their extreme ideology. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Go over to Manhattan Nest to read all of Daniel’s post if you haven’t already. He expresses perfectly why this is such an important election, and why Barack Obama is the right choice to lead this country for the next four years. I hear a lot of talk about being a “values voter,” and that is exactly what I am: I support Obama because I support the civil rights of all Americans. I care about a compassionate future for my country. Those are my values, and my vote supports them.

In Novemeber 2008, we did this. Now let’s go out there and do it again. GO VOTE, AMERICA!

Banner image by Lisa Congdon for the #GoVote project!

This morning I woke up (in Newburgh…with electricity!) to a tweet from my dear friend and co-collaborator, Lisa Congdon, announcing that her new line of wallpaper for Hygge & West is now available for purchase.

I could not be more excited! You already know I adore Lisa and that I love love LOVE her work, but I’m also a fan of Hygge & West. I have their wallpaper (the now-discontinued “Pieces” pattern by Julia Rothman) in my hallway, and I love what Christiana and Aimee have been able to do with their company in the past few years. I have wallpaper all over my house, and to have it be the work of some of my favorite illustrators is pretty awesome.

So how about that Triangle pattern, huh? Lisa sent me some sketches of the pattern while she was working on it, and I’m pretty sure my first response was, “Can you make sure it’s available in all-black so I can put it in my kitchen? And also gold and pink.” So I’m just going to pretend that all of this is for ME and my happiness. And believe me, I’m happy. I’ve been putting off working on my kitchen for…um, about 6 years now, and of all the possible motivators there could be for me to get going already, the prospect of being able to use Lisa’s wallpaper in the project is really all I need. I am so ready to do this.

I’m mostly likely going to go with the all-black option, but the gray/pink and charcoal/gold colorways (side note: I hate the word “colorways”) are super-gorgeous as well. Maybe I can find a spot for them somewhere else? I’m running out of places to use wallpaper!

Because I am who I am and I like what I do, I’m going on and on about the Triangle pattern, but Lisa also has two other beautiful wallpaper designs at Hygge & West, Ferns and Bohemian. To be honest, I love them all so much that they make me want to buy more houses so I can put more wallpaper all over everything. Or at least maybe convince my mother that she should put the Ferns pattern in black in her dining room, because it would be PERFECT there.

Congratulations on the new endeavor, Lisa, and thanks as always to Christiana and Aimee for their vision (and great taste!). The full collection is amazing. I can’t wait to use some of it in my home.

Yeah, I could live there is a semi-new, semi-regular D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today I’m spying on New York-based photographer Anita Calero’s West Chelsea loft.

I first learned of Calero’s incredible taste in furniture and eye for design when her house in East Hampton was featured in Domino magazine ages ago (check out this kitchen), and since then I’ve been hoarding every photo I can find of her homes. The amount of French Industrial furniture in her loft fills me with pure envy. I’m not sure how one gets their hands on quite so much vintage Jean Prouvé in New York City, but I’m guessing it involves quantities of money that I don’t have.

That Prouvé wardrobe…man. Why can’t I find one of those things on the street someday? (In case you’re curious, I just searched a few auction sites. They sell for like $30–40k. Gulp.) And who designed that lamp? The shape seems a little off to be Serge Mouille. Whatever, though. Everything in this photo is perfect and it makes me want to throw away everything I own and start over.

What, you don’t have a Prouvé desk chair, a couple of JIELDE lamps, a Kaare Klint safari chair and a bunch of turtle shells hanging on your wall? Yeah, me neither, but I wish I did. Well, maybe not the turtle shells. And look at that bookcase! It’s all college dorm-style with the shelves just resting on what look like wooden blocks, but it looks right. I’m crediting the black wall. Black walls fix everything.

I’ll conclude this with a quote from Anita Calero:

People invite me to dinner because they know I will tell them how to reinvent their living space. It is natural for me to move things around so that they fit. I consider everything I own a piece of art including my toothbrush. So when I look at what you have, I see art and I just know where it goes. It is possibly because I am a seriously published photographer and have been a stylist; that I know when something is not right and does not fit. Objects need to dance in a rhythm to their own synchronicity in order for us to feel free. Nature is like that, it knows what goes with what. When things are right—there is happiness, there is peace, there is bliss. That’s what we want to come home to- and what we have to offer.

Nice. “I know when something is not right and does not fit” is really my whole approach to figuring out what to do with my own home. And I should probably get a nicer toothbrush.

Want to see more of Calero’s loft? There are more photos at Loft Life.

Photos by Anita Calero/GMAimages.com and Jonny Valiant