Monthly Archives: August 2013

Object Project(or)

Finding the right objet d’art (snooty word for piece of art) for a room can be tough. I recently redesigned my family room and found myself wondering what sort of objects I could find to fill it with. Well, fill isn’t the right word. I’m not one for overloading spaces with ‘things’ for ‘things’ sake, not on purpose anyway!

The room has a certain mid-century-modern look to it so I knew I wanted a couple things keeping with that time period. My wife and I headed to a local flea market not exactly sure what we were looking for. We didn’t want to spend a lot on whatever it was, that much we knew. We looked at old retro fans, cool (no pun intended) but not quite unique enough. We saw a bunch of old Bakelite radios. They were nice and certainly keeping with the period, but all of them had their own flaws which were too big to overcome, cracks, stains, missing knobs.

Finally, after walking around a bit we stumbled on the perfect fit. It wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small (Goldiloks again?), it was just PERFECT! As my wife stopped for a bathroom break I found myself leaning against the wall waiting for her when I saw it. Sitting way up on top of an old corner cabinet, almost touching the ceiling, was this brown leathery box that had a definite 50’s-60’s vibe. It looked like a camera case of some sort but was much too large for any point and shoot I’ve ever seen. Then sitting next to the case, but slightly behind it I saw the projector.

At first I didn’t know what it was. I just saw the industrial looking piece of machinery but couldn’t tell right away that it was a 16mm projector. I asked the ‘shopkeeper’ if he could get it down off the cabinet so I could get a closer look. Once he brought it down I knew for sure I had to have it. It was as if someone had polished and shined this baby just for me! Unfortunately, my wife and I have a bad habit of always picking out the most expensive things, certainly not on purpose and not because we have such a refined taste and eye for high quality. It just always seems to be that way. So when I asked the ‘shopkeeper’ how much the projector was, expecting him to say $150 . . . $200 . . . $250, I was thrilled when he said thirty-five bucks!!! SOLD! I think that works out to be about a buck a pound judging by the weight on this thing! But it is the perfect objet d’art for my home.



So when it’s time for you to pick some new items or objet d’art for your home, try to think a little outside the box. Try repurposing things or displaying them in a different context than what they were originally intended for. Think retro if your place is traditional, think modern if your style is country, think 80’s if your place is . . . well . . . there’s never really a time to think 80’s. But you get the idea!

No Butts About It! – or – Ashes to Ashes, Butts to Butts



What was the first thing that came to mind? Dirty? Smelly? Gross? Ashtrays have long been used for both their function and their decorative look. From the greasy spoon diner type made of cheap porcelain, to the fanciest gold-leafed French stand style, these little pieces of Tobacciana (fancy word for all things having to do with smoking) are being used less and less today. And with less people smoking most homes don’t have any ashtray at all.

What this has left us with is a wide range of ashtrays on the open market, and they’re cheap. Real cheap! But just as important as being cheap is their decorative function. Who says you HAVE to use the ashtray for it’s original purpose? How about just using it as a purely decorative object? Their shape and size make them great pieces to add to any table, ottoman, or shelf. And there are literally thousands of different choices and styles. If you take a walk through your local flea market you’ll see dozens of them laying around for next to nothing. Granted, many of them are ‘tchotchke‘ type with “Welcome To Reno” written on them, or made in the shape of King Kong. But a little searching and you’ll definitely find a few that are just right for your home.

Take a look at some that I found today:

Colored glass ashtrays are wonderful because, well, they add color to your room. Ashtrays are great as accent pieces and this Amber colored orange ashtray for $14, which I found on rubylane, is no exception. Great price for a 60’s piece of smoking history.


Here is a glass ashtray for $49 from BigAshtray. They are very retro-mod, 60’s-70’s. The blue cobalt color is very popular right now and they have 3 available. These would look great as a set in one place or scattered about a room to tie in together.


Back in the day (whenever that was) ashtrays were sometimes built as their own ‘stand’ alone pieces of furniture. I found this ashtray stand available on OVERSTOCK for $69. It’s perfect to add to the corner of a room and fill up that small bit of space that’s been missing something. And as a bonus it can act as a little table/shelf too!


Here’s one I found on Wayfair. It’s a bit expensive ($108) but very sleek and modern. Über Kool!


What? You don’t have $108 to blow on an ashtray you say? How about this similar but much cheaper option from ivgStores for $29? Same sleek design, almost, and 1/4th the cost so your money won’t go up in smoke (boooooo).

IvgStore ashtray

So do some research and see what you can find. Take a look at this link to the ebay listings of ashtrays. There’s something here for everyone and in every price range, even the ‘Welcome to Reno” crowd!


Adding Light with Dark


I’ve seen this lamp a lot recently and I really like it! It’s has a distinctly modern feel in it’s acrylic build, but maintains a classical style with it’s baroque-esque shape. In other words, it can fit into any interior style no matter what.

The price range is all over the place from $89 to $200 plus! A quick search on Google and you’ll see tons of places to purchase it from, including some you really wouldn’t think of! I found this one at Home Depot for $96. I usually don’t like the lighting choices at the large box stores, at least not form what I see IN the store, but online is a different story. They have many more options that the physical store just can’t carry I guess.

The lamp comes in a few different colors but black is my favorite. There is also a translucent black version that looks really cool! It has just enough transparency to make it some how feel completely different from the solid black one.


From Hotel to Home

Have you ever stayed in an amazing hotel room and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? This past June I stayed in an crazy awesome room at Wynn Las Vegas. I say room but it was really a suite, in fact it was REALLY a house as it was 1800 sqft! The entire hotel property is magnificently designed and decorated from top to bottom, it is truly amazing, but that’s a post for another time. Now to the actual room decor itself; If I had millions of dollars I would just purchase everything from the Wynn catalog that was placed in my room, as everything IN my room was also sold by Wynn. But, at prices like $500 for a washcloth (well maybe not $500) who can afford to do that? What I can afford to do though is find similar decor at much cheaper prices. And that’s what this post is about.

Take a look at the two pictures of my suite below. What I will ‘bring’ home are the silver spheres and the tall candle sticks they sit on, as well as the glass table lamps. I’ve circled them in red on the photos below so it’s easier to see.


So here’s what I was able to find for MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper than the catalog price at Wynn. Granted, it may not be the same brand or quality, but all things considered it’s a pretty good match for the price.

Let’s start with those 2 glass lamps on the end tables. I’m not usually a fan of glass lamps, for some reason they always look cheap to me. But, in a room that has so much going on they are just what’s needed to rest your eye.

I found this pair on the HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION website for $170 with free shipping.


Each lamp is 28″ X 14″ and unlike most of the other options I found, this is sold in pairs. Many people like their rooms to have symmetry and pairing things that are the same always helps balance that. And it comes with the shade, which is good and bad. It’s good in a sense that the lamps are ready to use once you screw in a lightbulb and plug it in. It’s bad in a sense that often times the stock shades that come with many lamps are not the greatest quality or style. But that’s something that you can always change later.

Now let’s look at those silver spheres. When I first saw them I wasn’t sure I liked them. But damn if they didn’t grow on me and add a bit of coolness to the room. You can find silver spheres (balls really) almost anywhere, from garden stores to high end decorators showrooms. I choose to go slightly different with this option from ZGallerie and at just $10 each these Nest Spheres are a great little option.


They still have the shine and sparkle of silver and chrome, yet they are not as heavy and bulky as a solid silver ball would be. I would not be as afraid of these falling on the floor and denting or scratching when they land as I would the solid heavier spheres.

So now that we have our silver sphere ball shape thingy we just need something to place it on. Here’s two options for you to check out.

This first choice is at PierOne starting at about $11 and going up to $16 for the tallest one. These have a nice white-washed finish, very similar to those at Wynn in color and shape, but not quite as tall. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have 12 foot ceilings, sometimes a bit shorter is better. The tricky part about finding the right ‘holder/candlestick’ is making sure your sphere will sit in it properly. Some spheres are not actually round all the way . . . around. They have a small flat spot somewhere so they don’t roll away. But, that isn’t true with all of them so be careful what sphere you pair with what holders.


I also found this equally affordable option at Ikea and it comes in 3 different sizes. The tallest one pictured below is $14.99 and the prices go down from there.


Think about getting a few and having them at different heights just like the picture of the Wynn room above. Now the downside to Ikea is that you actually have to go to the store to buy anything, no online shopping :-(. But, I’m sure if you look around your area you can find a similar option at just as good of a price.

So, have you ever been on vacation and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? Well I say do it…sort of!

Goldiloks And The Three Frames?

You can usually tell who hung something on a wall by the height at which it was hung. Tall people hang pictures, mirrors, etc very high on the wall close to the ceiling. A real no no for me. Short people tend to hang things too low on the wall so you’re almost walking into them. As for myself I am not particularly tall, ok I’m short, but I am the ideal height to hang things! At 5 foot 8 inches I am just about the average height of men and woman in America (woman average around 5’4″ and men 5’10”).

The most important thing to remember when hanging anything on the wall is EYE LEVEL. If you’re not sure how high something should be hung just think about the average person’s eye level. So for you tall folks, sorry, you’re gonna have to bring it down a few inches. And likewise for us shorties, we have to raise things up a bit.

Take a look at the drawing below and use it as a guide next time you are hanging that portrait of Aunt Louise and Uncle Ichabod.


With the basic eye level rule of thumb you really can’t go wrong.

Get the Modern Family look!

Following up on my last post I said that I would be picking a few highlights from various ‘famous’ living rooms and showing you how to get a similar look for your home. I decided to start with Modern Family as most people would like their rooms to look more like this than The Golden Girls, presumably.

Take a look at the image below so we can know what we’re aiming for.

Modern Family

Modern Family

I’ll start with the paint, the gray blue slate color of the walls we see in the entry way above in particular. This is a great color for someone that is sick of white and beige but not ready for reds and bright greens. There is just enough blue to actually make it colorful, but also enough gray to keep it somewhat neutral.

While it is tempting to skimp out and buy the cheap paint, don’t! Trust me, more often than not you really do get what you pay for. I’ve painted a lot of rooms in the various places I’ve lived, and some I haven’t lived in, and the one thing I have been able to take from that is don’t buy the cheap paint! Drips, runs, spills, watery, pealing, are just a few words that come to mind when you skimp out on the paint.

My favorite paint is Benjamin Moore. It is quite pricey but goes on much thicker and covers more surface area than the cheaper brands, so in the end the price evens out a bit. A quick search on the Benjamin Moore website and a similar ‘Modern Family’ palette is found called Nimbus Gray. It’s almost a perfect match all around!

Benjamin Moore Sample

If you are afraid of adding this dark of a color to your wall, especially in smaller spaces, remember you don’t have to paint the whole room the same color. Try painting the main wall the dark color, an accent wall essentially, and then the two side walls in a lighter shade of that color. Or, in the pale yellow as shown above. Paint companies actually do a pretty good job at matching complementary colors for us, so we might as well use that tool, hell it’s free.

Now let’s take a look at their couch. There’s nothing extraordinary about the sofa, pretty standard as far as shape and size goes. The color is sort of a cross between pale yellow and light camel. So what can we find that’s similar AND affordable for our budget? Take a look at this choice below from JC Penney’s home store called the Friday Twill ($955 on sale).


This mock slipcovered sofa is a great deal at just $955 right now! This is that classically comfortable sofa that you can just plop right down on and read a book, watch TV, or just snooze away the afternoon. And coming in under $1000 for a new quality sofa is pretty scarce these days.

Now how about some pillow talk? Pillows are one of the best ways to add color and texture to any room. When I say this I don’t mean you should add 47 colorful pillows to your sofa and chairs and leave the rest of the room blank. I simply mean a few well placed and well patterned pillows can bring the whole room back together. *NOTE: Never add 47 pillows to anything unless you are a sheik of some sort.

Sticking with the Modern Family decor as pictured above, let’s take a look at this pillow from Pier One Imports called the Scatter Daisy Stripe Pillow ($15).


This brightly colored pillow is going to make your living room pop in an unexpected way. Most people would think that a pillow this bright would overshadow the rest of the room, but that’s not true. When you introduce an accessory that includes some of the colors already existing in the room it actually helps make those other things pop as well. Your eye ties the reds together, the yellows together, the blues together and so on making everything work as one.

While these pillows are made to be used outdoors, that doesn’t mean they cannot be indoor pillows as well. In fact, what that means to me is that these pillows are going to be remarkably stain resistant and durable, which is a very good things in a living room! And for $15 you can’t beat the price so buy a few.

And finally, let’s shed some light on the whole situation with this mustard yellow table lamp from called the Distressed Honey Mustard Handle Table Lamp (there’s a mouthful) for $107.


This lamp has a unique shape that will add some character to your room without becoming the centerpiece. One thing to think about with ALL lamps is the shade. Just because a shade may come with a certain lamp you buy, that doesn’t mean that’s the shade that HAS to go with it. In this case a slightly lighter shade, or conversely a much darker or even black shade, may work much better for you.

So those are my four quick elements to getting the Modern Family look. What are yours?

The REAL American Living Room

I was watching Modern Family recently and noticed how well designed their sets are. Very modern (duh!) and trendy, as well as comfortable and not too over powering etc etc etc. Then I began wondering about TV shows from the past and their said, or sad depending on the show, living rooms.

That brought me to do some searching around to see how sets have changed, and to a similar extent, stayed the same.

One thing with television is that the camera can only get a straight on view, for the most part. This of course leads to the basic TV living room set up, which truly isn’t that far off from most of our own homes:

1. Couch centered facing out toward camera.

2. Coffee table in front of that.

3. Chair(s) on either side.

4. Usually a set of stairs off in the background.

5. And most of the time there is an ‘imaginary’ tv set that lives in front of it all.

Of all these elements the one that I find the most odd is the staircase? I guess no one lived in a ranch house (except for the Golden Girls…I guess)? Hell, even the people that lived in apartments on TV had SOME stairs (see Three’s Company below). But, I guess people need to enter the scene from somewhere. I’m Just not sure why stairs make for a better entrance than a doorway?

In any case, here are a few of my favorites. I will follow this post up with a sort of ‘cherry picking’ of each living room. I’ll try to take different pieces of furniture and decor and find it’s modern day counterpart, be it similar or completely opposite. Enjoy!


Otto, Man. And I don’t mean the bus driver!

Ottomans have been around for hundreds of years, long before Dick Van Dyke started tripping over them (Dick Van WHO?).


Of course the Turks were using these comfy yet utilitarian pieces of furniture for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until they made their way to Europe that their popularity grew.
And today almost every home (well maybe not every home) has some sort of ottoman or foot stool plopped in front of their couch.

The thing I don’t like about many of the ottomans I see today is that they are part of a set. Someone buys the sofa, love seat, and ottoman all at once. The same fabric, same style same everything. It’s like having Vanilla ice-cream when there’s a box of Oreos sitting right next to it. In other words, mix it up! Add those cookies to your ice cream and add some color/texture/style to your living room furniture via the ottoman.

And don’t forget, often times your ottoman can pull double duty as a coffee table too.

Here’s a few I’ve found that can work nicely almost anywhere.

This is a colorful and contemporary option from TARGET. It’s a bit pricier than I’d like at $225, but still worth it for this stylish yet casual piece.


This one is a bit funky from OVERSTOCK (on sale for $194), but could be really cool in the right home. The cow hide pattern and texture adds a bit of fun and playfulness to what could  otherwise be a very serious room.


If silver and gold is your thing check these two out. Also from they are priced great at about $64 and $67 each. Think about getting 2 or more of these in place of one larger ottoman or table. They are also available in a host of other colors, so try mixing and matching. See the links below for more details.






Here is an option for those of you who are in to leather (wink wink)! Well…pleather anyway. This is available at for $223. It’s got a great color to it and a slightly stressed leather look which softens it up a bit.



One Kings Lane has this affordable blue spotted ottoman for $129.


This is a nice chevron pattern ottoman in orange from 55 Downing Street for $150.



Also at 55 Downing Street is this black tufted ottoman for $250. Probably my most favorite out of all of them, a bit more expensive but very elegant and trendy looking.
Also it is fairly large at 35″ square.


So next time you sit down on your couch and go to kick up your feet,
think about what you’re stepping on!