Amber Nussbaum – Designer, Long-time Blogger, Knitter, Sewer, Web Designer, Thrift Store Maven…the list goes on! This month Amber has agreed to let us take a peek into her world. For an even larger ogle, check out myaimistrue.com, where Amber blogs pretty much daily. I first discovered her because she had blogged us and emailed some pictures of her new home, and I’ve been hooked on checking in on her ever since. One of my favorite posts on her site was this collage of the Great Yard Sale Adventure:
Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live and what your space is like?
I live in Norfolk, Virginia. I bought my first home last summer after I graduated college. It’s a small (1,032 sq. foot) house, built in 1953 during Norfolk’s big development and housing boom (many of the Norfolk neighborhoods were built post-WWII to house military families). The house has three bedrooms, the largest of which used to be the garage (seen on the left side here) and a teensy, tiny bathroom. The main living space and kitchen are one big open space, which helps it not to feel so small.
I use one of my bedrooms for my office and the other is supposed to be my art studio, but right now is being used for storage. But soon, art studio! The yard is huge, and needs lots of love. Right now it’s basically a bed of dirt with moss here and there. When it rains, it’s a big mudpie.
Since I moved straight out of my parents’ house into my own house, furniture (not to mention artwork and just stuff) is still a bit sparse. I mean, all I brought with me was what was in my bedroom at home! Right now I’ve got a mix of hand-me-downs, staples that were immediately necessary (from Ikea), some thrift store/yard sale finds and my favorites, a few vintage pieces (I’m bigtime into mid-century modern design). I plan on growing that collection and turning my home into an eclectic space with a heavy emphasis on vintage and handmade things.
How do you earn the money for these great purchases?
I’m a graphic designer by trade. I am self-employed, but right now I put in 40 hours a week as a consultant for a large in-house corporate design group, doing print design for their public relations department. I also do freelance graphic design on the side. I’m majorly picky with my free time since I already work full-time, but I pick up projects from time to time that I know I’ll enjoy working on (like websites, album layouts & tshirts for bands and record labels and the occasional website or logo for a small business). FUTURES Antiques in Norfolk was a recent web project; also the place where I’m getting my great vintage pieces from! (They ship anywhere so check it out!)
What do you do when you are not on the computer?
I’m into punk & hardcore, music-wise. I book shows locally from time to time, and take pictures at shows when I remember my camera. I help a friend of mine with a record label, Last Anthem Records. We put out punk and hardcore 7-inches and LPs.
I have a Boston Terrier named Kyla that takes up a lot of my time. I got her from a rescue this past November. She’s simultaneously a huge pain in the butt and a huge source of enjoyment. I love making art with my hands, whether it’s in the form of knitting, sewing (just getting started with that), printmaking, graffiti, stenciling, painting or fixing up something that was discarded by someone else.
When did you start blogging and why?
I’ve owned the domain My Aim Is True.com since I was 16 years old [that’d be around 1998]. The first entry was about me getting my first speeding ticket (oh but it wasn’t the last!), ha. At the time I was using Dreamweaver and just coding and linking each page and archive by hand. I started using MovableType when it was still 1.x and that’s what I’ve been using ever since. Due to bad backup habits, server crashes, crappy hosting companies, general procrastination and lack of foresight, I have no archives whatsoever, aside from when I reopened the site back in July of last year. Oh well.
Why did I start blogging? I’m not sure. Post high-school graduation boredom? Probably. I didn’t even know what I was doing at the time, or that other people were doing the same thing. Web design was something I’d discovered earlier that year when I’d found Geocities, and taught myself some HTML. I remember having a Geocities page with a black background and lots of chartreuse and orange, and posting music news about bands I liked. Then it developed into me posting different opinions, pictures of my paintings and crappy poetry. I don’t think the point was for anyone else to read it, but just to put myself out there into the internet. I wanted a space. I mean, I was an artist, right? I needed a gallery.
As it developed, it just turned into a running commentary on whatever I found interesting at the moment. When I reopened the site last July, I was suffering from post-college graduation boredom (I’m seeing a pattern here) and I needed a project. I got over the fact that I had lost all my archives, reinstalled MovableType and just started posting stuff.
How and when did you become such a pro at spectacular yard sale finds/DIY projects? You were obviously born with the great eye!
Ha! Thanks for the compliment. I remember going to yard sales lots with my mom when I was younger, but I never really paid attention unless I saw a CD or tape I wanted. But when I got my own place, I guess it just became necessary to look at secondhand objects in a new way. Buying everything new was just way too expensive when I could get great versions of the stuff I needed at thrift stores or yard sales. I also enjoy taking existing things and customizing them to make them my own, so it works out.
Can you pick a favorite DIY project or yard sale find and tell us about it? I just love the $3 table project and your kitchen backsplash!
Favorite DIY project? Well since you bring up The $3 Table Project, I’ll talk about that. A few months after I moved in, I still had all my records in a cardboard box just sitting in my office. I was yard sale-ing one day, and spotted a crappy little table for $3 with a sign on it “cute table for your LPs.” It was literally falling apart when the guy put it in my car, but I figured for three bucks, who cares, there had to be some room for improvement. I took it home, took it apart and sanded it down. The next day I took it to my parents’ house to paint it. I glued it all back together, scrubbed the rust off the legs, and brought it home. The table went from this: to this:
Not too shabby. I think the total cost of the project was around $10. I guess I just saw potential in it, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
I love the daily click on your site. Do you have a top five for design sites?
The Daily Click is such a joke as a name now. It’s turned into the “every so often click” really. But anyway, top five for design sites? In no order of importance:
- Better Living Through Design. I am a huge fan, and steal lots of content from there (always with a link back of course). Their site is clean, well-written and they really have an eye for great products.
- MoCo Loco posts a large variety of design-y things, from architecture to sculpture to furniture, you name it. They also feature lots of international designers, which appeals to me.
- Design Public has been a favorite of mine for a while now. I’m not just saying that, check my archives! I swear there was one month where I blogged you guys like twice a week! Seriously though, the products you carry are outstanding and the customer service rules (I bought my bedding from you guys and I couldn’t be happier with it). Love the blog too.
- Apartment Therapy. Always an interesting perspective on improving whatever space you live in. Love their profiles of retailers and online shops, their “good questions” posts and their contests. Plenty of inspiration here and the open threads are always chock full of great tips and information from other readers. It’s a wonderful community.
- Productdose is like a neverending stream of design and style. They post several times a day, and I love seeing their new posts come up in my RSS reader. They also blog products at conventions and design events they go to, so you get to see a lot of stuff before it even hits stores. I love that.
Anything else we should know about you?
Not really, just thanks for thinking of me for this interview, and know that I’m excited that the weather is warming back up, because that means 1) spring cleaning, and people taking perfectly good stuff to thrift stores and 2) yard sales every weekend.
Thanks Amber! Be sure to keep us posted on your latest finds!
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the "Editorial Director" here on Hatch, you can find me spewing lots of design opinions and tips over at Houzz. Make me happy -- leave a comment!