Design Books

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Five Books To Help Get You Organized


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Vitra Uten Silo

Alright you all, there is just a week left in January and if you’re anything like I am, you probably ran out of that New Year’s resolution organizing steam about a week ago!

Did you get anything done? A closet cleaned? A junk drawer straightened? Tell me you at least took one box to the Goodwill or labeled something? If not, don’t fret;  it’s a good time to give yourself a kick in the bum and  try again! True confessions: I currently have two toppling stacks of tax receipts and files in the middle of my floor. I was hoping looking at the mess would make me work on them but instead I’ve learned not to see them.

One way to get your organizational juices flowing is by picking up a good book. Here are five tried and true tomes that will help you get inspired:

1. Good Things for Organizing by Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Say what you want about Martha, but she didn’t get where she is today by being disorganized.

2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I loved this book because I could totally relate, skip around and read it out of order and enjoy seeing how Rubin’s life improved as she organized her life and priorities. She has another book out now called Happier At Home that I can’t recommend as I haven’t read it yet, but based on how much I enjoyed The Happiness Project, I’m betting it’s a good one!

3. Speaking of happiness and books, The Happy Home Book. Nayar digs deep into all sorts of topics, from how to live a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle to ancient traditions like Vastu. Though packed with all sorts of information, her writing style is accessible and makes this a very enjoyable read.

4. Peruse Real Simple 869 New Uses For Old Things before you get started. You may come across some junk that might just be useful during your cleanouts. Plus, some of the ideas might get you excited to start sorting and see if you can unearth any of the “old things” and use them in new ways.

5. If you’re finally ready to get serious, get your hands on a copy of Unclutter Your Life In One Week by Erin Rooney Doland. Be warned: The amount of things Doland expects your to accomplish in one day is exhausting. I read this book as Unclutter Your Life In One Month and tried to get a day or two’s worth of Doland’s tasks accomplished in one week. It’s a great step-by-step guide that will take you through the entire house.


Friday, December 7th, 2012

Design Books on My Coffee Table’s List


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I love to make an Amazon wishlist before the holidays, and it’s my coffee table likes to chime in with the picks it wants to sit atop it. Right now, my Scandinavian mid-century modern slat table has been surfing the internet a lot, and I think he’s made some great picks. If you have a design nut on your list or just want soem inspiration for yourself, check out these titles.

Doris Duke’s Shangri-La. The fabulous estate of Duke’s in Honolulu was modern yet full of intricate Islamic details, rich colors and was truly a paradise. Most of us wont’ ever get to stay at a property like this, but at least we can take a virtual visit with this book.

Speaking of places I’ve never been to, I am hankering to see the amazing interiors of Havana via author Hermes Mallea’s Great Houses of Havana.

American Beauty by Thom Filicia. Here Thom takes you through a renovation process of his lake house in upstate New York. The results are stunning, and the only quibble I have with the book is that it makes me wish I were a houseguest.

Steven Gambrel: Time and Place. I’ve been ripping out Gambrel’s images from magazines for years; it would be so wonderful to have this collection of ten of his major designs all together, happily hanging out on my coffee table. Incidentally, both Thom Filicia and Steven Gambrel’s books were photographed by the talented Eric Piasecki.

Which books are you hankering for right now? Please share the titles you and/or your coffee table are hankering for in the comments section.


Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Fun Book: The First Apartment


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A great new book hit the shelves this week – Kyle Schuneman’s The First Apartment: Cool Design For Small Spaces. Kyle has crossed the country helping folks who have spread their wings and flown the coop feather their first nests, or some such mixed bunch of metaphors that mean making their first apartments livable AND cool. This guy is full of clever tricks for all sorts of spaces and personality types, and he’s really good at explaining D.I.Y. projects – he’s included  projects that range from super-easy to more advanced, so there’s something for everyone.

In the somewhat more advanced D.I.Y. arena, he created an argyle wall for his chapter for the preppy. I suggest mastering a horizontal or vertical striped wall first, which is also covered in the book.

Also from the preppy files, Kyle teaches us how to transform a ho-hum dresser to a playful plaid piece with decorative paper and some Modge Podge.

For us less experienced D.I.Y.ers, he’s rolled out the chalkboard paint, but taken us from simply painting the wall (been there, done that!) to the fridge and the cabinets in this kitchen that he’s dubbed “Le Petite Bistro.” He took a shabby rental kitchen and gave it a crisp yet cozy European vibe with paint and some drapes.

Sometimes something as simple as a headboard wall decal and charming drawer pulls will add your personal style stamp to a room.

In this artist’s tiny apartment, Kyle went all Jack the Dripper on a canvas slipcover for the owner’s hand-me-down sofa. He also made the yellow no-sew pillow and the yarn frames, and instructions for all of the projects are included.

This book is a great to give as a housewarming gift, a graduation gift or holiday gift for someone looking to up their style ante but is unsure where to start. If you’re feeling uninspired, treat yourself to a copy. The book is currently under $15 at amazon.

All photos from The First Apartment Book, taken by Joe Schmelzer


Friday, June 1st, 2012

Links we love


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Congratulations to all of our friends at DwellStudio! Today is the official opening of the DwellStudio Flagship store at 77 Wooster Street in New York City. If you get a chance to visit, I’ll be jealous; it looks like it’s absolutely what I’d expect from them – beautiful and inspiring. If you can’t make it, visit vicariously through this blog post.

Other posts that caught my eye this week all remind me of the antiquated pre-CD, pre-interent technology of my youth, and they are all super clever. Check them out!

image by David B. Smith Gallery

This one earns a big WHOA! Thanks to my friend Maya over at VisuaLingual for sharing this incredible city composed of movable type pieces on Facebook. It’s by artist Hong Seon Jang and it’s currently going viral around the design blogs (I took a gander at it at Colossal; it’s awesome, I had to drag myself away so I could get some work done). At this angle, the mini-city looks like something out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception dreams (or was it reality? I still don’t understand what happened at the end – enlighten me if you know).

image via we and the color

And down the rabbit hole I went; apparently Colossal found city over at Quipsology, so I hopped on over there and found this incredible mix tape table by Jeff Skierka. You can’t quite see in this picture, but it sits on a clear acrylic base So if you really have a crush on someone, stop making that lame music mix and think bigger.

Image by Todd McLellan

Back to (not)typing: Hopping over to DesignerPad, I found a post that will appeal to those of you who wonder how things work and those of you who like to take stuff apart. It’s about a show by photographer Todd McLellan called “Disassembly.” There are some really cool videos on McLellan’s site showing him disassembling some of these. They are great lessons in composition.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Around the Web This Week So Far…


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1. Magic Bus in Mexico City: It’s not just the fact that it’s been yarnbombed, but also the patterns and colors that make it part Partridge Family/part Harajuku. I spied this on Pinterest via Casapinka.

2. Five Hotels Across the Room with Stunning Interiors: A feature from The Wall Street Journal that will make you want to go to there.

photo by Beatrice Amagat for The Wall Street Journal

3. Happy 5th Birthday Making It Lovely! I had no idea I had posted about you within about a week of your launch, but I do remember Nicole’s work catching my eye via all of those fabulous images she posted on Flickr! It’s been wonderful to watch her home, business and family grow over the past five years. Congratulations!

4. Middle of the country fights “flyover” derision; small cities grow and flourish: GOOD mag has a great article about how small cities that a lot of planes may happen to fly over are improving, growing and spreading the word about what they have to offer.

PET PEEVE ALERT: As someone who spent her formative years in Cincinnati Ohio, I don’t like the term “flyover state.” In fact, the kind of people who say it are the ones I hope don’t land anywhere near me anyway. You can keep your insane  rents and stinky cabs, your hideous traffic and your earthquakes thank you very much. Those of us under the flightpath know what great places these smaller cities can be.

5. Oh Pinterest, you are a danger. On a more positive note, I’ve been trying my hand at pinning, repinning and liking too much this week; I even let it distract me from watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills the other night. We’re just starting to dip our toes into Pinterest over here, so Pinners, let us know how to follow you in the comments section.  Here’s our Pinterest action.

What caught your eye on the web this week? Let us know in the comments section!