Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art on Etsy

This week in the Wall Street Journal (stay with me here and quit yawning...) there was an article about art and it's impact on the world.  What might surprise you is that this article just briefly touched on the monetary value of art and spent most of the page talking about the impact on human lives.  This is the beauty of art. It can bring a certain lively quality to spark your home's appeal.

Although it varies amongst clients, one thing holds true for these little pieces of heaven:  it packs a punch in a home!  Whether it is a child's homemade art work or a wildly expensive professional piece, art provides a wonderful way to enliven our otherwise dreary dwellings.  "So, Carla, where do I start with this art buying thing?"

The answer is really quite simple.  There are oodles of store out there that cater to the art novice. Various retail shops like ZGallerie, Crate & Barrel and Horchow all provide excellent beginning options while galleries offer a chance to discover a new artist.  Heck, there are even luxury establishments where one can purchase world-class collectables at outrageous prices. (In the WSJ piece that I mentioned earlier, a Salvador Dali painting went for $20 million this year as opposed to the previous years prices of only $5  million...amazing...)

In other words, what I am trying to say is that there is no one place that one should purchase their artwork.  For the Moss family and for most of America, the option to plop down $20 mil on a canvas by some old guy is not even on the radar.  This is why one of my go-to sites is the world of Etsy.  Take a visit but be savvy- there is some junk out there too.  Buyer beware.  Below are some of my favorites from Etsy.

Nicole Cohen has a bright, bold modern touch to her work.

 Janet Hill exudes delicate and feminine.

Animals that remind me of artist Charlie Harper by United Thread

Sapphire Wind by youmin

Textured "Blossom Tree" using a palette knife by Modern House Art

And perfect for summer "Sherbet Summer Love" by Erin Ashley

In addition to the artwork variety that is available, Etsy also has fabulous pillows and accessories as well.  You might want to set your phone alarm to keep you on track during your visit! Browse to your heart's content, knowing that others will be paying a lot more than you are at the Sotheby's auction to add that special touch to their homes.

happy bidding-

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Class Update: Theory of Development of Form (3D)

Tradition holds that the great philosopher Plato had engraved above the doorway to his academy these words: "Let no one ignorant of geometry come under my roof."  Powerful words from a highly intelligent man but up until this point, I might have considered this quote to strictly apply to math majors and history geeks.  That is, until this semester.  Another 6 weeks has come and gone with yet another design class being checked off the requirement list.  This time around, my battleground was 3D - compliments of AI Online...
Ascending the throne of my final project!

Taking cues from the classical thought process of Plato, the 3D class at AI Online proved to be both exhilarating and enlightening.  No more was I student in the flat medium known as 2D with the strict boundaries of width and length but now depth was added to the recipe - a part of everything that we did for class.  

Weekly assignments consisted of constructing an object - usually built out of bristol paper.  Bristol paper gave way to basal wood capping off the course with corrugated cardboard.  

My first attempt using basal wood.

There was lots to learn about planar nets, Archiemdean Solids and the 5 Platonic Solids.  The aforementioned Greek mathematician and philosopher Plato discovered that there are five "perfect" three dimensional solids.  And only five.  They include: 
Not being ones to shy away from anything daunting, we embarked on a journey to create on the lovely objects above.  Below is a picture of the Octahedron that I constructed as well as a folder from bristol paper.   
2D beauty to 3D volume - gorgeous!

Undergraduate design classes are not the only places to discover the timeless beauty of mathematical solids. (Heck, my 4th grader made a book report from a paper dodecahedron but I'll save that for another rant... ) Designers utilize these all the time to create abiding items in their collections.  Take a look at this lamp from Ralph Lauren Home  - truly striking. 
Week 5 proved to be no less daunting -- create our own 3D composition involving symmetry, balance , proportion and harmony.  All made out of basal wood and glue.  Friends, please hold your giggles until after the show... For those of you that know me well, you know that ever since my sons were little using Elmer's at my kitchen table that I have despised the stuff.  Literally, I hate glue.  Would rather make a slept in bed a hundred times.  But, not to fear!  I soldiered through the assignment with flying colors.  But my fellow student Andi....well, that's on a different playing field.  Andi's commission was stunning.  Great job, Andi!

Our last assignment was to make a chair out of cardboard. Requirements?  Only the approved tools (x-acto knife, glue and cardboard) were to be utilized. Including the initial design, this was to be duty numero 4 for that week.  Ugghh.  Did I mention that it was supposed to hold a 200 pound person?

Desperate for inspiration, I leafed through one of my favorite books 1000 Chairs (get one!) and continued to be motivated by Charles Renee MacKintosh.  Architect, designer and artist from the 20th century , this dude can build chairs. 

The chairs below are pieces from the early 20th century.  Restaurants during that time catered to the women folk who arrived donning long dressed and fancy hats with one focus -- to chat and eat.  (sounds good to me...)  Being long and lean, these style chairs allowed for privacy while accomplishing the task at hand.  Here are my inspiration pieces:
Mackintosh chairs

Initially, I created a mock-up out of the chair out of bristol paper. The fruits are below:
Then, it was off to create the real one.  The successful construction of the chair was the inner workings as shown below.  Support was key.  It was a family affair.  For weight testing purposes, the boys in the Moss household proved to be invaluable.  
The chair in progress...the internal "support system" with interlocking cardboard

The chair was a success!  Some fringe, a cushion and an emblem topped off the entire project.  No crashes,  Yeah me!
And so concludes my journey for the last 6 weeks.  Although I am fairly sure that Plato never intended his sayings to be pertinent to our modern day theories, isn't it awesome to think that simple ideas never fade with time?  Not only did I get a great insight into the philosophers of the past, but a new paper chair to boot! Next?  CAD.  Yippee!

Off to download,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Room of the Month: The Laundry Room

Grandma used to weave some pretty intricate stories about laundry day as a little girl.  The tales involved enormous cast iron pots, tin washboards and stinky lye soap.  Oh, yes...and hours upon hours stirring wet clothes in boiling water.  So, when we got our first house and all of these modern day conveniences were inside and not boiling, I thought how proud my grandmother would be of her granddaughter moving up in this world. That is, until I found out just how fantastic laundry rooms can be in the home.  

Gone are the days when the illustrious laundry rooms are stuck in the gloomy basement or forbidden on the second floor.  The laundry room has officially arrived as the new design frontier. Ironically it's one of the rooms that gets the most usage, yet the least design attention.  To make it handy, the laundry room oftentimes is relegated to the back of the house or next to a bathroom where the plumbing is housed.  But in recent years, the laundry room has taken on a new image with the help of interior design.  Thus, it has been crowned this month's "Room of the Month."

One of my favs..fresh, clean and just begs you to do one more load.

1) Not just for the basement anymore
Efficiency is key to laundry duty.  Just ask any mom.  The thought of running to the far end of the house to do the laundry and then run in the complete opposite direction to put it away (all multiple times in one day, mind you), can make one's stomach rumble.  When re-working your current home or purchasing a new one, take some time to consider where this little room of possible torture is located.  You may want it to be near the dirty clothes.  That usually means near the bedrooms.  Consider utilizing an unused bedroom, a big closet or hidden space behind a wall. 

  Au revoir to this...

2) Bright colors fabrics and rugs 
Most of us do laundry at least once a week, so why not make the room enjoyable and fun?  Remember you are going from dirty to clean so you want to room to reflect CLEAN and FRESH.  The addition of a colorful print, some fun fabric or even a playful rug can speak volumes to your spirit as you serve your family.

3) Consider dual purpose
Consider moving your office to another room with plumbing access to take advantage of space by combining the office and laundry into one.  Think about the aromas wafting your way as you pay your bills.  Delicious!  Mulit-tasking at its finest.  
Check out this office/laundry combo -- stylish, functional and oh so clean!

4) Multiple machines
"These are all great ideas, Carla, but I have a really large family and I love to entertain. Plus, the twins are really into mud pies."  If your machines never get a break, then consider purchasing more than one machine for your laundry room.  Time is money (or in this case, sanity).  Yes, the initial investment is tough to swallow but the time you will save is inexpressible.  Your time is valuable and worthwhile. 

5) Apply the kitchen model 
Consider investing in nice countertops, fixtures and cabinets.  The reward will be spectacular.  Reflect on this room from Tracery Interiors .  It appears to be a kitchen at first.  But upon closer examination,  you will notice the primary indicators of a kitchen (dishwasher, fridge and oven) missing from the picture.  These have been replaced by washing machine and dryer.  By applying the same design basics to the laundry room as the kitchen, you will be able to get your ideas flowing quickly with jaw-dropping results. 

6) Storage Options - Open or Closed?
Whether you decide open or closed with your storage solutions, it's vital that they provide easy access.  Cabinets are a safe solution and certainly not to be dismissed but wouldn't it be fun to have open shelving?  Not only cost-effective, open shelving allows for more panache - especially lined with wallpaper or fabric.  And the paint options are endless as well. 

7) Folding! 
Don't forget to leave some space for folding in your room.  This is much easier than hauling a load to your bed for the process.  This is one of the main things missing from laundry rooms, in my opinion.  Despite storage for all of our soaps and stain removers and even a sink for soaking, the reality is that we don't stop with laundry until the dryer stops.  Folding space can be accomplished by installing some shelving over an existing cabinet or directly over the washer and dryer themselves.  You can even consider supplying a table or fold down shelf in the area.

8) Wallpaper?
If you were ever going to try out wallpaper, this is the room for it.  Most of us love wallpaper but we get a touch shy when we consider it for a main room.  Numerous questions run through our heads - what if you get bored with it?  what if it goes out of style?  Alleviate your anxiety and test your favorite pattern in the laundry room.  Since the space is normally smaller than the other rooms in the house, the cost of installing the wallpaper will be a minimal investment compared to another area.  Plus, it can look just downright cool!

Check out this room from Laundry Room Design

9) Drying and ironing 
Ok, I have to admit.  I rarely iron.  However, I do own an iron and ironing board for that rare moment when the dry cleaners is not possible.  So when I do decide to use my iron, it's a real hassle.  Where will you store your iron?  Wall? Nearby closet?  Also allow some room to hang dry those clothes too.  Even our girlie items should have some space for drying in the laundry room. 

Check out more ideas at digsdigs.com

10) The colorful appliance
Erase the pink bathroom tile, guacamole green toilets and most of the stylish hits from the last few eras.  Colorful appliances are beautiful and in classic colors.  So...use them!  I usually tell my client to avoid the colored appliance.  But...it you get a great deal on one or just have to have red, go for it.  Just be sure to buy accessories to match it and let that be the standout color.  Use white as a backdrop.

If you can't have the red sportscar....why not? From Furniture Design.

10) Folding door dillema
Some of my faithful readers are stuck in a home without the benefit of extra space  Don't fret, just get creative!  With beautiful doors and an organized space leading to the hidden machines, you are sure to be pleased.  Notice below how matching storage boxes and warm custom cabinetry do wonders for this space.  And consider the lighting too!
Bi-fold doors with custom built cabinetry = nice!

Whatever your laundry needs, take comfort in the fact that none of us will ever be seen sweating over a raging pot of water while the kids play near by.  The days of grandma doing her laundry outside are gone only to be replaced by some pretty incredible feats of ingenuity.  So, take advantage of your laundry room's potential.  You're sure to reap some rewards as you happily put together a place for the family's clothes.

Waiting for the spin cycle-

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dwell with Dignity's Recent 2011 Spring Install

I wear many different hats in my life.  Student, Design Assistant, Designer Extraordinaire, Mother, Wife, Volunteer.  In addition to all of these previous titles, I also hold one very special moniker --  blog manager for Dwell With Dignity.  This is probably the designation that I am most proud of outside of my own family duties.  DWD is a non-profit organization that has a fantastic team of designers on board who use their gifts of interior design to create soothing, inspiring homes for families struggling with homelessnes and poverty.  Combined with a slew of tireless volunteers, the DWD team believes by changing a person's surroundings, their outlook on life will also change for the better.  We have stories upon stories of significant  life change due to the DWD influence.  

Check out a recent Dwell With Dignity Installation from the talented blog team entry below:  (Notice the pillow on the brown chair -- donated by moi!)

Remember the fabulous work our volunteers did during our last WWNs (in February and March)? The creatively quilled artworks and freshly-painted furniture were put to good use at our first 2011 install with a family at the Interfaith Housing Coalition

Scroll down to view the highlights of this new home DWD decorated for a mother and her 4-month old baby. We incorporated bright yellow accents throughout to set a cheerful tone for the young family and hopefully inspire YOU to do more with color, old furniture, and your trusty hands!


Special thanks to Sandra Freeman for her artistic
photography and D.Fadal for the pillows

This quilled artwork takes the spotlight of the room. It was created using a hollow-cored door!The complementary credenza was generously contributed by Antiques Moderne.

We always have use for old pieces of sturdy furniture that just need a little sprucing, like this wingback chair. Check out the difference in the before and after!

Before & After
The warm color tones combined with the soft lighting makes for an inviting and comfortable environment in the living room.

The completed living room look


Pops of yellow keep the bedroom bright even as the black draperies (donated by Curtain Exchange) shut out the light on weekend mornings to allow for sleeping-in.

Doesn't this look adorable?


On entering the kitchen, you'll find a kitchen table fashioned from the top of one table and the base from another. Another "Inspire" idea for you!

The yellow paint unites our donated items and makes the room pop!

Kudos to the Dwell With Dignity Design Team!  Who says that inspiration can't conquer all? 

Many of you have asked me how to go about getting involved with DWD.  The simple answer is to donate.  Send a picture of the item to be donated to donategood@dwellwithdignity.org.  Once your photo is received, you will hear back from someone with all the details involving drop off and tax deduction.  Wouldn't it be a thrill to see one of your tired old donations reappear in a fresh way in an upcoming blog?   Regardless of whether you have anything physical to donate, cash donations are always accepted to underwrite any of these spectacular items waiting to be reinvented for the cause.  

If none of these methods suits your fancy, there's always room for more on the blog team.  Respond to this blog and I can hook you up right away with all the necessary info.  Away you go!  Another essential element to our Dwell With Dignity Team is getting your hands dirty.  Hop on over to the offices on Hood Street in Dallas each Wednesday evening and bring your playclothes!  Each week artisans and would-be experts alter furniture, create artwork and dabble in other outstanding goodies for an upcoming install.  You'll learn fantastic techniques while making a difference for someone less fortunate.  So..while your duties swirl around your head like soft serve ice cream, I hope that you will take the time to look outside yourself and into your community. Take a cue from Dwell With Dignity.  Make someone else happy while living your life.

Off to a hat change-

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Royal Wedding and their first home

Pope John Paul II shot.  "Jessie's Girl." MTV.  American hostages released. 5150 IBM PC.  Charles and Diana.  If you're flashback machine has been jolted this week, you are not alone.  I am in memory nirvana and lovin' it.  Fascinated by Princess Diana while attending grade school in 1981 (did any of you catch that -- grade school), I was allowed to stay up all night and watch the royal wedding with my BFF Lisa.  That began our addiction to the royal family and we have been royal watchers ever since.  
The happy couple on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Since Lisa is still my best friend and another royal wedding has rolled around, we thought there should be some sort of celebration.  Sure, we considered flying to London to line the streets with the throngs of well-wishers but uniformly settled on staying the night without kids and hubbies at the Dallas Fairmont instead.  Much better choice for our post-grade school bodies to be up at 1:00 am in our snuggly pajamas with a celebratory glass of wine raised to the new couple than battling it out on the streets. And celebrate we did....Being that I am burgeoning designer, I couldn't help but take this time to ponder where the freshly united couple would be living. Who does one ever hire to bring together two very young and very visible styles?  
The newlyweds making their own way to the reception

There are documented rumors (is there is really such a thing?) swirling that the duo has hired Beverly Hills design Kenneth Bordewich of Beverly Hills Luxury Interiors to assist them in their decorating dilemma.  My only question to Ken is, "Do you need help?  I know a fantastic design assistant with a flexible workload in Dallas...." Previously completing some work on the library at Clarence House for Prince Charles, Mr. Bordewich is no novice to the celebrity design scene.  Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson are among his rolodex. Below are some samples from his website:

A library sitting room by Bordewich

Luxury in the bedroom
Branching out into a contemporary living room.

So now that the possible designer has been chosen, where will all this elegant style ooze into the royal reality? Rumor has it that Prince William and Princess Catherine will reside north of Wales where William currently is serving as a helicopter pilot (What? He actually has a job?  Nice.)  Due to safety precautions, the exact location of the "cottage" has been kept under wraps but I'm betting it won't be long until the secret spills out. The newly christened Mr. and Mrs. will have an apartment at the Clarence House at their disposal whenever desired.  Both the new father-in-law, Prince Charles, and the Duchess of Cornwall have suites there as well. 
A suite at the Clarence House is one option.

Another possibility, is a home at Harewood Park in Herefordshire as roots for the lovebirds when William completes his 3 year stint in RAF.  Situated in prime countryside between Monmouth and Ross-in-Wye, this 900 acre estate comes with a lot of colorful history -- including being used as target practice for the SAS -- but the demolished Georgian mansion was replaced with a 1970's style cottage.  For a while, it is said that this piece of property provided Prince Charles with an annual income (I assume all the perks of being Prince of England were not enough to satiate his poker habit...) There have been plans announced to raze the existing structures and employ a team of professionals to create a six bedroom manor house masterpiece -- fit for a king.  Receptions rooms, boot room, kitchen, orangery and even its own chapel are all visions for this piece of rolling landscape. Sounds divine. 

Possibility number 2 for the newly weds --- Harewood Park in Herefordshire.
Possibility numero tres in the realm of prince and princess hood? The majestic Kensington Palace, according to Mirror. As well as being the official residence of Princess Diana until her death, this was also the family home for Prince William in his younger years and so it makes perfect sense that this would be a strong option.  I have to admit, I love the "curb appeal." 
The ever-classic Kensington Palace... 

Cutie pie Prince William as a baby in Kensington Palace sitting room

Just me and mom working a puzzle..

Not too shabby for first home options, huh?  As a teenager, Kate (or Princess Catherine as she will be known from today forward) is quoted as saying that her dream is to have "a nice house in the country and some dogs."  Looks like that simple request will be more than fulfilled by her darling prince.  All this jabber of deciding where to put these royals has brought me to the end of my royal rope.  With wine glass empty and a cozy hotel bed beckoning, I'm back to dream about the days when we all wondered whether Sandra Day O'Connor would actually hold up against the big boys in the Supreme Court and our hair was as big as our egos.  

To the happy couple,