Monday, January 9th, 2012

2012 Resolutions: Catching Up on Your Design Reading


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Have you been meaning to catch up on your design reading but just haven’t had the time? The lucky thing is, now you can figure out which books from 2011 lived up to the hype and which ones you should take a pass on. As for the best design books of 2011, here are ten that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend from interior designers, shop owners, magazine editors, bloggers and trendsetters, in no particular order.

1. Decorate by Holly Becker: The top blogger, along with co-author Joanna Copestick, has come up with 1,000 design ideas. That’s right, 1,000, for every room in your home.

2. Black and White (and a bit in between) by Celerie Kemble: Kemble breaks out of her Palm Beach roots here. She has collected the most stylish uses of black and white rooms around. She’s one of my favorite design writers – insightful, intelligent and she doesn’t take it all too seriously.

3. The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman: The founding editor of Dominio and current editor of the Wall Street Journal’s magazine has compiled a charming tome of design advice, accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Virginia Johnson.

4. Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux: While it’s not the opposite of Decorate, this book is about loosening up and the beauty of casual comfort. By the way, Christiane is the founder of DwellStudio.

5. Katie Ridder Rooms by Heather Smith MacIsaac: I love that Ridder has her own distinct style that really cannot be categorized. It’s fresh and feel-good.

6. Big Easy Style by Bryan Batt: This is a more personal pick, because I love this actor, who played Sal on Mad Men, and I love almost everything about New Orleans, a city that’s unique and special in so many ways, including its architecture.

7. The Happy Home Project by Jean Nayar: I love not only that this book provides a guideline for making your home healthier and thus your life happier, but also that Nayar digs deep into everything she’s doing, whether it’s learning about how to be greener or how to achieve Wabi-sabi.

8. Patina Style by Brooke and Steve Gianetti: Perhaps you recognize Brooke from her popular blog, Velvet and Linen. It’s so much fun to finally have her and her husband Steve’s style all wrapped up in a beautiful hardcover book!

9. Alexander Girard by Todd Oldham and Kiera Coffee: I’m so glad that Todd Oldham has gotten into books. This book as well as his giant Charley Harper book that came out a few years ago are must-haves for graphic design aficionados.

10. Summers in France by Kathryn M. Ireland: Kathryn Ireland is one of those people you wish you were friends with.  With this book, you get to take a vicarious visit to her beautiful home in France and pretend you are friends with her.

What were some of your favorite reads in 2011? Please share with us in the comments section. I’ll be sharing whatever I pick up in 2012 as I go along this year. Happy Reading!


Friday, January 6th, 2012

Around the Web This Week: Airstream Video, Slideshow, Political Cartoons and Design Resolutions


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1) In Praise of Airsteam Design: Loving this inspiring video from Dwell magazine, featuring Christopher Deam and timeless design at its best in the form of the Airstream trailer:

O.K., I couldn’t figure out how to embed it, so link over by clicking on this line!

2) A Sleek-Meets-Crumbly Reno in Denmark: I’m loving this New York Times slideshow of a once-crumbling townhouse in Rotterdam, especially the way the Dutch architect Rolf Bruggink has kept the best of the crumbles inside the otherwise-slick renovation:

Image by Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

3. The Best of 2011 Political Cartoons: I’m a big Mike Luckovich fan, so I thoroughly enjoyed his list of favorite political cartoons from 2011. As a bonus, he explained why he liked each cartoon. This one is my favorite, as it addresses my biggest pet peeve: People with no phone etiquette:

Image by Mike Luckovich, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

4. New Year’s Resolutions at Home: Yahoo listed ten resolutions to try and conquer at home. Saying you’re going to do all ten is probably setting yourself up for failure, so shoot for two and hope you do at least one (dare to dream, my friends, dare to dream.). The best ones to attack right now, IMHO, because they will save you major bucks over the next year are:

-The home energy audit (seal up those drafty leaks while it’s this cold out and energy prices are high).

-Ditching the storage space! What do you have in there? Would Barry from Storage Wars be psyched to find it or would even that magpie Jarrod think it was junk? Have you missed one single thing that’s in there? Add up how much you’ve spent on the space so far and it will make you ill.

Photo courtesy of A&

What were you checking out on the web this week? Please shoot us a link in the comments section.


Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Sad Chairs


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The only thing sadder than the Framingham Massachusetts rest area at 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve is a massage chair in said rest area, stuck in between the candy machine and the men’s room on Christmas Eve. What’s even sadder than that is a pair of them. And the saddest thing of all, is that the sign above them says “Chairs Are For Massages Only.” So non-paying sitters are not welcome to wait for their loved ones outside of the bathroom unless they are feeding quarters to the chairs.

How stiff would your muscles have to be to tempt you into sitting in one of these? Anyway, looking at this picture made me feel oh so much better about every single chair I have in my house. It’s also making me think that putting a real spa in a rest area is not a bad idea.

What’s the most bizarre thing you have seen in a rest area? Let me know in the comments section – I’ve got the post-holiday blues and I’m feeling really uninspired!

By the way, this post reminds me of one I wrote back in 2005, where I linked y’all over to 50 Sad Chairs by Bill Keaggy. It’s still one of my favorite things on the interwebs and I’m happy to report it’s still up and running. In fact, there is even a book, published in 2008, called 50 Sad Chairs (go figure). You can still find it on Amazon:

There’s also a Flickr group called Sad Chairs. I think I’ll be over there checking out the 1400+ submissions they have for the next few hours. Come join me if you want!


Monday, December 19th, 2011

Pantone’s Color of the Year: Tangerine Tango


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She uses tah-ah-ah-an-ger-ines…I’m never going to get that stupid song out of my head now. Thanks a lot Pantone. I have no idea what exactly inspired their pick for 2012, but as someone whose high school and college colors involved orange, I’ll take it. Wish I still had my tangerine Guess? jeans from the ’80s, in fact. Yeah right, as if those would still fit.

Anyhoo, wondering how to get in on some tangerine action around the house? Check out these colorful products.

Love this fun Tiki Stool by Offi. The best thing about it? You can move it from room to room and out to the deck or patio.

Add this fashionable hue to your tablescape with Chilewich’s Rectangle Spun Placemats.

Get coastal with tangerine with this grahpically stunning coral rug from Thomas Paul.

Nothing’s more fun that pops of tangerine in a a pop floral print. Check out Three Sheets 2 the Wind’s Ani Wildflower pillow.

You can touches of tangerine via these eye-popping shower rings from Kontextur. They’re like the earrings of the bathroom.

Kiddos like tangerine too. We love this colorful bus frame from DwellStudio.

Bend seating is a new classic modern line of chairs that I love, and no color can top this happy orange.

A clockwork orange? Sorry, you know I can never let a dumb pun or reference pass by me. This ingeniuous little alarm clock by ANYTHING will brighten up your nightstand or desktop. Speaking of desktops, ANYTHING also makes a bright stapler, tape dispenser and scissors to help perk up your workspace – check them all out here.

Fido needs to be fashionable too! Why not pick him up a fresh Fatboy Doggielounge to start the new year off right?

How will you be incorporating tangerine, or better yet, how do you incorporate it now? Do you wear it proudly on your nails everyday, or do you rather hate it in general? Let us know in the comments section!

Top image from


Friday, December 16th, 2011

Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas


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For a lot of you this will be a weekend of gift wrapping. Get out your Scotch tape, your gift tags, your ribbons, your raffia, perhaps some Happy Tape, your boxes and your wrapping papers ready. Here is a list of some of our favorite resources around the web to inspire you.

1. I feel we must start with Martha. If you try to emulate her to perfection, you’ll probably drive yourself nuts, but her gorgeous wrapping ideas may spark some more simple ideas. This one’s easy – silver wrapping paper, a few different ribbons in fun patterns, and some berry doodads:


2. Real I always count on Real Simple for great ideas that won’t be too tough to execute:

photo: Kate Seers for

While they recommend making this paper on the computer, you could do the same thing with butcher block paper or brown wrapping paper and a Sharpie.

3. Grab a few colored tapes from the craft store. You can find graphic tape at an art supply store, Happy Tape, or even some fun colors of painter’s tape from the hardware store, and create a fun pattern on your package. This idea came from Oh Joy! – in fact, I think that’s the blog that led me to Happy Tape years ago:

photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D for

4. Unruly Things: If you’re feeling particularly crafty, take a note from Japan and wrap your gifts in fabric – it’s an eco-friendly alternative to throwaway paper that will leave your giftee with a scarf or gorgeous piece they can sew into a throw pillow or frame. Feeling extra-extra crafty? Create your own fabric via this tutorial, and get a result like this one:

photo: Unruly Things

5. Design*Sponge: This is a classic Design*Sponge post I always refer back to. I always keep brown mailing paper, raffia and cheap paper tags in stock for all occasional wrapping, and this post showed me how to step up my game a bit. Guest blogger Amy Merrick has several ingenious ideas in this post, be sure to check it out:

photo: Amy Merrick for Design*Sponge

6. Yes, we’ve all seen the clever (and not so clever) ways to wrap with newspaper, but this tutorial goes to the next level – crafting gift bags from the paper. So empty out the recycling bin and get to work!