Author Archives: steve

Bar None!

How about a drink? Bar carts used to be quite fashionable back in the day, but fell out of favor  in the later part of the last century. Luckily they’re making a come back, and with good reason. Who doesn’t like a good drink once in a while? And you’re more likely to have that drink, and a little fun, if your spirits are in a more accessible place. Here are three choices from most to least expensive, each with it’s own little style and twist.

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Available from West Elm this mirrored Art Deco inspired cart has ample room to store the good stuff. The cart is now on sale for $339, but it’s worth it for the glamorous feeling you’ll get from mixing a martini over this classy piece of decor. Think Don Draper.

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Available from Target for the small some of $130 is this Threshold Wood and Brass Finish Bar Cart. This cart is a bit trendier with a gold looking brass finish. In fact Target has a whole line to go along with this style in their Entertaining Collection.

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Check out some of the other great bargains they have to go along with the cart like this Decanter (above) for only $15.

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Finally, the one of the most affordable options I found was this Chrome Bar Cart from Overstock.com for $110. While it’s not my favorite option, it is perfect for those on a budget or short on space. The cart might only fit a bottle or two and a couple of glasses, but hey, It’s perfect for those of us who like to drink alone!

Prints Charming!

Neutral prints and ‘art’ are boring. Why is it that everyone hangs up the same bland prints or photos on their walls? The neutral colored leaves in a frame. Or the tan/golden/taupe trees with the sun poking over a hill. The millions of poster prints of Van Gogh and Monet paintings. My favorite are the wall hangings that include EVERY neutral color and tone in the book.

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Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you want to have neutral colored prints and art, but your walls don’t always have to look so boring. Add a little playfulness and some color to what you hang. There’s millions of options out there so don’t be afraid to try something new and different. Add a bold color, an odd shape, a crazy photo. The good thing is that if you hang something up and you don’t like it, you can just take it right back down and replace it with something else.

Here’s an artist named Brandon Bird who creates some very unique and incredibly fun work. He takes a lot of ‘famous’ celebrities and other pop culture references and paints them in unique situations and different perspectives. His work is definitely for those with a sense of humor. In fact, I have two of his prints in my home now. The one below is called “No One Wants to Play Sega with Harrison Ford”:

 

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Check out his online store to see if anything speaks to you. His work is very affordable and quite funny. He typically uses a bright and colorful palette, which can make all the difference in your home. But most importantly, his work is not all beige and tan and neutral and full of leaves!

BIG-BOX STORES: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Shopping for furniture can be tough. The danger of ordering online is that you can’t physically feel and touch the items. Is it a soft leather? Does the fabric feel cheap? Is this color blue or aqua or slate? For reasons like this people often stick to the big-box stores, which is fine. The challenge is finding something stylish and contemporary at these giant chain stores.

Below is a small sample ‘test’ I did online for three big-box stores; Ashley Furniture, Raymour & Flanigan, and Macy’s. I simply went to their websites and searched for chairs. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of what I found.

RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

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The Good: This is a modern wing back chair in a textured gray fabric. The Cassa Chenille Accent Chair is $350, but like many of these large stores you can probably get a discount in person. This chair is great because while it has a modern look to it, it still has the right amount of comfort that many people like in their homes.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.57.45 AMThe Bad: Tufted fabric is a classic element, that when used right, can add a little bit of sophistication to your room. This however, is not sophisticated, it’s over-stuffed and under-styled. And worst of all this Maxine Chair is $800. The one thing they got right is the frame. It has sleek modern lines and does not feel too bulky. In fact, the frame is the only thing about this chair that’s NOT bulky. Note the overstuffed cushion as well.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.58.32 AMThe Ugly: At $370 this Caroline Swivel Rocker might be perfect for grandpa, but not for anyone else. In fact, you should not buy this chair or any like it if you are under the age of 75!

 

 

 

ASHLEY FURNITURE

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6220021_KOThe Good: I like orange, for now. I can see this color going out of style in a year or two, and perhaps coming back again. This color was popular in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, but had gone out of fashion until recently. Called Verbena Chocolate (price unknown as Ashley does not list costs online) this is a somewhat soft looking formal chair in my opinion. I could see it flanked by a cocktail table or arranged in a pair for a small conversation corner.

2490131_KOThe Bad:  This chair looks like something an Eames chair threw up. It’s just wrong, all of it. Oddly enough this is a very popular design as I see it at many of the big-box stores. Here’s a tip: If you see something at every store, don’t buy it. That means that style has come and gone and is no longer ‘in’.

 

3920044_KOThe Ugly: I think I saw this pattern in a hospital waiting room back in 1991? Sometimes the pattern says it all, and in this case it says burn me.

 

 

 

MACY’S

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Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.11.14 AMThe Good: Unlike the pattern we saw in The Ugly from Ashley, this Brie Fabric chair uses a much more pleasing design. The pattern has enough white space in it so as not to overwhelm your sight. The frame has a classic feel with solid arms that are delicate but still substantial. All this will cost you though at $850, but don’t forget your coupon and 10% off for using your Macy’s card!!!

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.08.54 AMThe Bad: While I like the general color and style of this Asher Leather Recliner, they just missed the mark. It looks like if you sat down on this seat you’d slide right down to the floor. It is hand-rubbed Italian leather, so the quality IS there. Not sure why the chair has to recline either, that really takes away from the aesthetics. Maybe having the chair recline is the only way to keep people from falling off it?

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.10.09 AMThe Ugly: Oh Fudge! The Jedd Fabric Power Recliner Chair (who the hell named this?) is a steal at $600. And if you’re lucky maybe someone will steal it from you! The fabric is actually called fudge. I think that’s because this chair looks like a big chunk of fudge! They should rename this chair The Big Chunk.

Hang Your Head – UPDATE

I stumbled on this great article from theFIX, the blog part of MYHABIT.com. It’s about how to use antlers and faux animal heads in your home. Check it out, there’s some good info here especially if you liked my previous post Hang Your Head. Faux animal heads are a very popular trend right now and the look can be had quite cheaply. Which is good, because like most trends you’ll probably want to change it soon enough anyway!

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If you’re not familiar with MY HABBIT check out their website. It’s not just home decor they sell. Similar to One Kings Lane and Joss & Main, they have weekly/daily deals on all kinds of designer products. And if you’re worried about not being familiar enough with My Habit to actually buy something, don’t be. They are owned by Amazon.com I believe.

Denim Don’t

DENIM COUCH

WOW! Who the hell designed this thing, Levi Strauss (I’m here all week folks)?
And let the insults begin:

1. It looks like it smells like patchouli.
2. Does this couch make my ass look big?
3. I just want to cuddle up on my sofa with a good book and 300 yards of denim.
4. You know what this couch is missing? An elastic pocket…oh wait, there is one!
5. This costs $2,389. No really, it does. That’s not a joke.
6. Made from 100% recycled mom jeans.
7. Machine dry, low tumble.
8. Dude, your sofa’s zipper is down, I can see it’s lumbar support!
9. How many times have you said to yourself,
“You know what this room is missing? A denim couch!”
10. Does this sofa come in a button fly?

This beauty is brought to you courtesy of Dot&Bo, which usually has some very nice decor. But today they got it all wrong, and I thank them for it. And by the way, it really does sell for $2,389. So how many can I put you down for?

Here’s a little extra credit for another $750, enjoy:

DENIM CHAIR

Hang Your Head

ELEPHANT HEADS

I stumbled on this really cool site called White Faux Taxidermy recently. I know what you’re thinking — taxidermy? Really? The key word is actually Faux, not taxidermy. Basically they sell resin sculptures made to look ultra realistic, here’s some info about how it’s done:

Resin Animal Heads Are Artwork, Not Stuffed
Resin animal heads do not have any actual animal parts. Rather, they are handcrafted artistic pieces that are made to look like animal head mounts. These modernistic taxidermy specimens do not involve a carcass. . . . These mounts are crafted using detailed photos and measurements of an animal. (Sometimes the animal is stored and then released after measuring and photography; sometimes the creator simply acquires the photos and specifications). From that point, the faux taxidermist creates a resin or fiberglass sculpture of the chosen animal, whether that is a deer, a bear or an elephant.

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They make a wide variety of animals available in many different colors and finishes. And best of all they are very affordable. For example, a small bear head starts at just $30 and the larger one is only $95. Cruise around their website to see exactly what they have, it’s time well spent. These are great alternatives to the $500+ pieces professional decorators routinely use in their work. They have some ‘serious’ sculptures as well as some more fun and playful ones. And remember, these heads can hang anywhere from your dining room walls to above little Billy’s toy box, so be sure to check them all out!

Business Meets Pleasure

Most people have a place in their home dedicated to paperwork, bills, or record keeping (is that still a thing?). Actually, most people SHOULD have that. In reality I’m guessing most people don’t. We do our bills in the kitchen or dining room, maybe at work or in bed, pretty much wherever we can spread out a little. And that’s when things start to get messy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a little corner somewhere in your home to keep the important paper work so it doesn’t get lost in the daily rubble of junk mail and credit card offers?

I know what you’re thinking — “That’s great but I don’t have enough space in my home for another desk just for bills and papers.”—I get it. What if I told you you could not only keep your bills safe, but also your booze! BINGO! SOLD! SIGN ME UP!

Look at this great little Patchwork Secretary from West Elm.

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This piece is not that large, only about 49″ tall and long X 20″ deep, not too big at all. It is however, awesome! It truly is business meeting pleasure, just be careful they don’t meet too often or your finances will be in big trouble!

Now for the bad news. The bar/desk is currently selling for $1,400!!!!! Yowsers! West Elm carries a whole line of this Patchwork style with different colored wood panels on the facade of different pieces of furniture. A very trendy modern look that may not be for everyone, but certainly is for me. There’s a dresser, armoire, nightstand, and secretary also available in this same style. But again, they are not cheap by any means. However, West Elm is always running sales and discounts, so if you hit it at the right time it could be worth the splurge!

Reclining in Style

BROWN SOFA RECLINER

For those of us who grew up with reclining sofas and sectionals there really was no replacement for comfort. You could recline your little section of the sofa, flip open the arm rest to have a place to put your drink and a holder for your remote. Your typical reclining sofa is about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide with the same depth as a your average 55 chevy. In other words, they’re big.

While these behemoths may be fine for a basement, man cave, or home theater room, they really don’t belong in your average size living room anymore. Of course that doesn’t mean you should feel like you are in grandmas parlor sitting on plastic wrapped furniture. Comfort should be top priority in your own living room, especially when you just want to kick back and relax. That being said here’s another way to think about the reclining sofa. What made it great was that you had your choice of kicking up your feet on the footrest or sitting upright. The simple solution to that is get a comfy couch and place a comfy ottoman in front of it. That way you can still decide if you want to ‘recline’ and slack off or sit up and pay attention!

Here’s a nice comfortable sofa that I paired with three different ottoman choices. The gray sofa can be somewhat dark so I tried pairing it up with a bright striped ottoman or a solid lighter toned one. The striped one certainly looks the best to me, but for many homes that color scheme won’t work or will be too much. If that’s the case stick to the neutral tones. By the way, all three of these ottomans are available at CB2, links are below:

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A. The Thomas Sofa from inMod is pricey at $1,500. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy this exact sofa, I am just using it as a base to show you how to combine both comfort and style at the same time. But, it is a very nice sofa and comes in several different fabrics.

B. From CB2 this little Parlor ottoman is $399 and the tweed fabric adds a nice touch of texture to your room. There is also a similar one in atomic orange also for $399 if you need that big pop of color.

C. My favorite choice is this Batao Stripped sectional ottoman also from CB2 for $549. The larger square size (37″) makes it a great ottoman/coffee table combo. The colorful stripes won’t look great in every room, but certainly add to the fun and playfulness of this piece.

D. A brighter and larger option is this 38.5″ Lotus Natural Ottoman for $499. Notice the bent chrome legs which add a sense of modernity. This is a larger piece so make sure you measure your space before you order anything. Nothing worse than getting this home only to discover you can’t fit it in front of your sofa without moving it every time!