Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's All In the Details -- Even When It Comes to Light Switches!

When my husband casually asked me one day what I had planned to use for switchplates (we're remodeling our Colorado kitchen,  installing the honed version of the Misty Carrera Quartz pictured in polished form above), I kind of just shrugged it off.  I mean what were my options?  You might be well ahead of me, but I thought my choices boiled down to white, beige, cutesy or faux-painted. When I began shopping online for options, I was amazed at the selection.  Can't label them boring or purely utilitarian any more.  Take a look at some of the ones I found on Switch Hits .  They included the humorous (of course):

Architectural styles -- bungalow, Greek, and one inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright:

This one salutes the work of the late German-born American artist, Josef Albers, who was known for his square-in-square abstracts:

How about a leather-embossed basketweave?

I found stripes, lattice work, stone, Corian, pewter, stainless, wood (Walnut, Zebrawood, White Pine, Hickory....) and more:

Switch Hits also does custom plates. Just send them leftovers from your backsplash or sink cutout. Those start at around $70 per plate.  They apparently have something for everyone -- and for all rooms.  Designs depicting animals, children, women, castles, trees, fish. Oh my.  They come in turquoise, pink, purple, yellow. Wow.  I'm sure there are many companies who offer the same or similar. I just happened to land at the Switch Hits site. Oh, I think I'm going with brushed nickel or stainless to complement our sink.  The actual switch and electrical face only come in white, bisque or brown, by the way.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Words to Live & Decorate By...

I always gather up a stack of magazines when we're about to hit the road.  And during the 16 hours to Galveston from Colorado -- and from the island back to the mountains -- I dog-ear many pages. I make mental notes . . .  that I want to come back to this, or I want to remember that. You know how it is, if you're a magazine junkie like me.  Well, I decided to share accumulated tidbits of information today.  Designers were asked in House Beautiful's "Send Us a Picture" column,  "What's the littlest change that makes the biggest difference?"  Designer Albert Hadley's advice to friend Christopher Spitzmiller, I read, was to hang his larger painting above a smaller one. That configuration raises the eye upward, which "heightens" the room, he said.  When I got home, I followed his advice.  Here's my art corner that previously showcased the smaller print at the top:

As a stylist on magazine shoots, I liked this idea plucked from a Traditional Home story about a floral artist (Jennifer McGarigle) and her creative work:  "For added sparkle in a traditional space, antique mirrored boxes are great for floral arrangements."  And another tip from a TH story about accessorizing:  "Create art tension. If your interiors lean toward traditional and classic, contemporary artwork keeps the mood fresh and youthful."

From Simple Living:  Cut clear straws to place on trimmed flower stems so they appear longer and work better in an arrangement.  Looks kinda cool, too.

Place discarded shower hooks in the closet for purses. Again, Simple Living.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Sampling of Eco-Friendly Furniture

The furniture landscape continues to get "greener."  And more affordable.  Eye the photo above of Broyhill 's Jasmine Sofa, priced at $899.  Looks sweet.  Sounds great:  Soybased-foam fill the seat cushions. Recycled plastics make the back ones. The springs are made from repurposed steel. The frame is built from domestic timbers obtained from certified sustainable sources. The leg stain is water-based.    I love where we're all headed....   With that said, there are challenges. For instance, finding affordable sources of certified, sustainable lumber is difficult. Less than 8% of the world's timberland is certified, according to the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA).  Most forest certification programs were developed in the 1990s, and their aim is to ensure a balance between what is harvested and replanted.  The alliance does applaud the following furniture manufacturers for making strides in producing eco-friendly pieces:  Ethan Allen , Copleland Furniture, Rowe Furniture, Broyhill, Harden Furniture, GroovyStuff, Thayer Coggin, Sauder, Vaughn-Bassett Furniture, and C.R. Laine.

In addition to building frames with sustainable hardwoods, C.R. Laine is also focusing on developing a wider selection of environmentally friendly fabrics.  One such is hemp, a plant that doesn't require pesticides or fertilizers -- and very little water. Plus, the company's marketing director says hemp is 8 times stronger, which makes it very family compatible.  The Stockholm sofa above by C.R. Laine sells for $4,254.  It is upholstered in Hybrid "Oatmeal," a new cotton fabric.  "When cotton T-shirts are manufactured, a significant amount of cotton fabric is used, according to C.R. Laine.  "In the past, many of these remnant pieces were sent to the landfills. Through a process of collecting, cleaning and separating this pre-consumer scrap cotton fabric into raw fibers, the company is producing this new hybrid cotton.

The Coyote end table from Groovystuff is constructed from reclaimed antique farm implements salvaged from farms in Thailand. It sells for around $499.

Ethan Allen 's distressed pine trestle table is made from lumber gathered from domestic, sustainable sources. It has a water-based finish. About $1,399.
Sauder Woodworking Company has adopted a "waste not, want not" philosophy.  According to AHFA,   every one of the 37,000 items Sauder ships daily from its 4 million-square-foot plant is made from 98% pre- and post-consumer recycled material. Their price range for desks, bookcases and credenzas: $69 to $249.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Here's to you, Jeanne-Claude

A large yet simply worded headline grabbed my eye as I passed the newspaper stands lining a side street in Salida back in November.  Introducing the lead story on one of front pages, it read "Jeanne-Claude dies in New York."  I was momentarily stunned, as I had just met this artist whose grace was as memorable as her stunningly bright orange-red hair.  She and her husband, who is well known in the art world by his first name only -- Christo,  had just been in Salida a few months prior to discuss their upcoming project titled "Over the River."  When she died, Christo vowed to continue their art.  If he and his team are successful in receiving approvals from local, state and governmental agencies, their temporary environmental art project will be installed for viewing during a two-week period in the summer of 2013.  Jeanne-Claude once said in an interview they they don't care to label themselves and their art but if they had to, they would call themselves environmental artists.  Their "canvases" are actually urban and rural settings.  They take these natural backdrops and construct ways to turn them into virtual paintings, if you will.  Well, that's my take . . . it's like taking a walk in a painting. You see things differently, for the first time or in more defined or even abstract ways.  You can see what I mean by this particular sketch, one of many done in preparation of OTR:
This project will span, if approved, 5.9 miles of the Arkansas River between the Colorado towns of Salida and Canon City.  Not surprising, it has sparked controversy.  When Jeanne-Claude was here in Salida, I was truly struck by her genuine sincerity. I sat among a very small group of business people who were invited to ask questions.  It was a rather intimate gathering.  I asked an environmental question. She came over to me, looked me in the eye, smiled and began the answer.  She made a personal connection with everyone in the room.  I liked her immediately.  And I felt then, and still do, the two of them are doing everything right in trying to realize an artistic vision in the most responsible ways.   Their project will be installed in eight different areas along the river.  They already have talked with so many, from landowners to rafters, environmentalists and emergency personnel to ensure what they do is responsible.  It's too lengthy for here but, if you're interested, go to the Christo/Jeanne-Claude Web site for more information.  (I took Jeanne-Claude's photo and the OTR sketch from their Web site.) I remember their art exhibit in NYC not long ago.  Called "The Gates," it and the process were applauded.   The national media gave it rave reviews.  I remember as I wanted to catch a plane just to go see it. Interestingly, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born in the same year, on the same day and during the same hour -- but in different countries.  She died at a young 74 as a result of complications from a ruptured brain aneurysm.  I know this has little to do with my blog's main intent -- home design, but I wanted  to acknowledge Jeanne-Claude.  I hope their project works out for them as well as for Salida.  Here's to an interesting and very vibrant artist -- and a bright new decade of possibilities!
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