Monthly Archives: September 2013

I Pity the Foo!

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I got a great deal this past weekend on a pair of Jonathan Adler Foo Dog lamps from the JC Penny home store. The website has them on sale right now for $45 each, but in the store they were marked as $37 each. And as a bonus they left the light bulbs in them!!!

These lamps are perfect for your bedside (which is where I will be using them) or on a sofa table, buffet cabinet, end tables, well pretty much anywhere. And, if you’re really in to Buddhism you should definitely buy a pair of them and not just one lamp. Foo dogs are always found in pairs in the Buddhist faith. Foo dogs (also spelled Fu) are the guardians of Buddhist temples and Chinese palaces. In fact, Foo/Fu means Buddha. They were originally made to act as lions would, but since lions are not native to China, they were modeled after native dogs like the Chow Chow. Hence their somewhat gargoyle-ian features.

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Today of course, at least in Western culture, the Foo/Fu dogs are typically used as pieces of decor, which brings us back to these Adler lamps. They are just the right size for bedside lamps at about 22″ high. The shade is just ok, as are most shades that come with lamps. I will think about upgrading it to a heavier quality black shade. But all in all it, and especially for the price, the quality is very good.

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Don’t think of these lamps, or Foo dogs in general, as just Asian decor. The Adler lamp is a very stylized and modern looking Fu dog, which really helps bring it into the Western design sense. In fact, many of the Foo dogs you see in the stores and shops today are of this modern style. They do not have the same ancient feel as the ones you would see in a museum or temple, but they will add just enough of that far east feeling to make your room seem unique!

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It’s All in the Decals!

Following up, sort of, with an earlier post about wall decals. My wife, who is also a graphic designer, has the unfortunate luck to actually have to go into an office everyday. Until recently, her work space used to be a dark, dank, dimly lit corner. But then they added some bright colors, moved some desks around to open up space and just the other day added this really cool decal to their wall.

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Obviously as a graphic designer myself I have full appreciation for the content of this decal. But, from a more interior design prospective this is also a great choice. The contrast of the black and white decal on the red/orange painted wall is perfect! The Periodic Table of Typefaces adds some whimsy and fun to an otherwise typical office. Check out the link above to Scribble on Everything, there’s some other great decals on this site as well. This one was only $49 and look at how cool it looks. You would never be able to find a framed piece of art or print for anywhere near $49, at least not one that would take up this much space AND look good doing it!

Dining Room Do’s and Doo-doo’s!!!

Take a look at the dining room shot below. There’s a lot of dining room doo-doo going on here!

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Where to start? The dark wood hutch and buffet cabinet and dark wood chairs and table (hidden under an oddly placed flower print table-cloth) make this room feel claustrophobic, or at least it makes me feel claustrophobic when IN this room. The burgundy/merlot colored curtains block out all the light while the frosted glass chandelier blares in your face. The two-tone taupe (say that real fast five times) colored walls only help to mute out the light even more.

The two bright spots in this room are the hard-wood floor and the chair rail molding along the bottom half of the walls. The wood flooring provides a nice warm color to the room while the white molding at least gives us SOME contrast.

Sadly, this is my dining room. All these mistakes took some time to coordinate. An inherited china cabinet and dining set mixed in with a chandelier that was in this home before we moved in, combined with curtains that seemed like a good idea at the time and a table cloth that looked great in the store, all came together to make this room look like doo-doo! But not for long!

Here’s a sketch of a few ideas I have so far. Obviously not all these things will be making the final cut, but it’s a start. I like to use these kind of sketches as a frame work for the design of a room. I like the two porcelain heads on the wall, but if I can’t find them, I can find something similar in size and shape which will work just as well, and the same for everything else.

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The most obvious change is the brightness in the room. It doesn’t get a great deal of sunlight, but you can create light using small amounts of contrast. A dark paint color on the bottom half against a brighter creamy color on the top half suddenly opens this space right up. I’ve already wrote about the buffet cabinet in a previous post (To Display or Buffet…) so let’s talk about the chandelier.

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This would probably be considered a Sputnik style chandelier, popular in the 60’s when the whole space craze took flight (cough-cough). They have since become a part of the mid-centruy modern movement and you find them in all different sizes and shapes. Usually they are fairly round and have several extensions coming out from the center like a star, or satellite, or UFO! They range in size from 18″ or so up to several feet for the big $$$ buyer.

The model above is called the Zuo 50028 Pulsar and I found it on Quill for $249. Many other websites cary this same chandelier so shop around for the best price. Amazon carries it, through a 3rd party seller, for $75 more. Even Staples carries this light, but they’re out of stock right now. If you don’t like this particular chandelier but like the Sputnik style there are a lot of options out there, and many of them are very affordable.

Case Study

PROBLEM: A living room that gets very little light and is currently occupied with oversized furniture, and walls that are too dark.

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SOLUTION: Start by choosing brighter wall colors. A buttery beige on the two side walls is accented by a cooler, yet still light, slate color on the back wall. A lighter toned bamboo shade is added for some privacy while still letting a fair amount of light in. A smaller and brighter sofa and love seat take over where the oversized green microfiber left off. A retro-modern ottoman serves as both coffee table and storage space and adds a rich aqua color to the center of the room, drawing your eyes in away from the dark corners. Two white side tables that flank the sofa are narrow enough to fit in the tight space, but open enough on the bottom so as not to feel heavy. A black and white photograph on a brighter wall always adds great contrast while the orange chevron pillows add the final pop of color that was needed.

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Chair-y Picking!

If I had to pick one chair and one chair only to sit in for the rest of my life it would be the classic Eames Lounge Chair from Herman Miller.

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Of course if money wasn’t a concern I’d already have this chair, but at $4500 it’s a bit more than I can afford right now! But fret not for my bottom, as there are plenty of knock-offs and similar designs for a fraction of the price.

Here is an option from Modern In Designs for $995. It looks almost identical to the real thing and you get free shipping!

Soma Classics has essentially the same deal for $989 also with free shipping. This Eames knock-off is made by Modway Furniture which sells several other copy cat styles so check them out.

You can find deals all over the internet for around $900, some a little more some a little less. Just be sure to do your research on the maker before you buy. Always read customer reviews to make certain you’re not being taken advantage of and to be sure the quality is somewhat reliable. However, there really is no substitute for the original, but if you absolutely need to have the Eames Lounger and can’t afford the $4500 price tag, this is a suitable substitution. Just don’t expect it to be the same high quality as Eames.

That being said, a little birdy told me that there will be a sale in Novemeber, 15% off Herman Miller items at Design Within Reach! That would knock the price down to about $3825. I spent thirty-eight hundred sounds so much better than I spent over forty-five-hundred dollars on this chair, doesn’t it? Now I just have to get my wife to see it that way too!!!

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To Display or Buffet, that is the Question

I am about to start redecorating my dining room soon. Currently we have a hand-me-down dining set with matching table, chairs, and china cabinet with hutch on top. The whole set has certainly seen better days, but has very much served it’s purpose. Recently I was at JC Penney and walked through their newly designed home section. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so. Very modern and stylish, yet still very affordable, a big plus in my eyes! You wouldn’t think that a store like JC Penney, that sells $6 sweaters and $12 jeans, would  have such a cool home section, but they do. Jonathan Adler, Michael Graves, Conran, and Martha Stewart (among other designer names) have even signed on for exclusive lines with Penny’s.

So the question is, do I stick with a hutch style cabinet, or do I go with just a buffet cabinet with no hutch/display shelves on top? The dining room isn’t very large, only about 10 X 12’ish. The problem with EVERY cabinet/hutch that I’ve ever seen is that they are way too large. Usually they come in two pieces and weigh about 3 tons each. It takes a team of oxen to carry the furniture in to the house. They require an entire wall dedicated to propping them up with barely any room on either side. For these reasons, and the fact that my dining room is so small, I think the buffet style cabinet alone is enough. It will open up a whole wall essentially and still give me about the same amount of storage as I would have had with the giant hutch. Granted, I will have to find other places to display some items that are currently living in my hutch, but you can always rotate them in and out of whatever ‘display’ space you end up using, weather it’s on the table or buffet top, or in another room altogether.

So, back to JC Penny. A new dining room set can cost you thousands, or hundreds depending on the quality. I say thousands before hundreds because when it comes to wood built cabinets and tables you truly do get what you pay for. Yes, I could get a complete dining room set, table chairs, cabinet, hutch for as little as $900 at some discount furniture store (I mean you Value City, more on them later). But it will be made out of pressed board with laminated wood grain, and maybe it will last for a couple years before the shelves begin to sag and the ‘wood’ begins to turn color. But if you spend your money on quality constructed items made from REAL wood and made by REAL manufacturers who know what they are doing, that set will last a lifetime, quite literally!

Here’s the buffet cabinet I am thinking of at Penney’s. It’s designed by Conran and is currently $1,275. Of course there are always coupons and credit offers that can knock this price down a few hundred bucks, not to mention the perpetual sale JC Penney’s always seems to have going on. I like the lighter oak wood veneer finish with the geometric squares along the front. This will add a great contrast to the walls behind it which will probably be painted a dark royal blue with white walls and trim above.

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Design by Conran Icarus Grid Sideboard

I’ll keep you posted on the progress as we begin to start redesigning the whole dining room. Next up, table and chairs!

Happy Endings

Bookends are awesome. Not only do they serve an actual purpose, assuming you have books, but they make a great little design touch to your shelves, desks, tables, or where ever you place them. While they are meant to keep books standing upright, they can certainly be used as purely decorative pieces, or to hold up other things like record albums.

They’ve come a long way, from the very basic design . . .

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to the most elaborate . . .

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from the kitschy . . .

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to the fishy . . .

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(yeah, yeah, I know a whale is a mammal not fish)

to the fishy AND kitschy . . .

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to whatever this is . . .

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Well you get the point, there’s a bookend for every one out there no matter what your style is.

Check out this site for some really cool and simple designs. It’s called Knob Creek Metal Arts and they have some very unique bookends. Their other items are worth checking out, clocks, garden decor etc, but their bookends are where it’s at! Here’s a few of my favorites:

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They have a lot more options and each set runs about $60, but their simple designs combined with the little stories they each tell are a great deal! And remember, use bookends like you would any accessory in your home. Don’t have actual bookshelves, try putting them on an end table. Don’t have an end table, try putting them on a counter in your bathroom or kitchen. Don’t have a bathroom or kitchen . . . then maybe don’t spend $60 on bookends!

The Rug Bug

Ahhh carpeting or rugs. Which one is right for you? Wall to wall carpet is certainly practical if you don’t have hard wood floors, or if your floors are beat up, and not in a shabby chic way. But area rugs are also nice. They come in many sizes and many prices. Plus, when you get sick of your area rug you can just roll it up and get another one. With carpeting it’s a bit more labor intensive and much messier, not to mention more expensive, usually.

When people install carpeting they usually go with a solid color. Why exactly that is I am not sure? I suppose if there was a pattern that went wall to wall that it might be overkill. Or maybe people just like solid olive green running through their rooms, that way it matches their drapes, and couch, and love seat, and tablecloth, etc.

The beauty of an area rug is that you have endless options of shapes and styles, patterns and prints. So even if all your furniture is olive green (ick), you can choose an area rug that will certainly match your style.

I like a nice geometric pattern myself. And again, there are literally thousands of options from about $180 to $1000+ for an 8 X 10 rug. Take a look below and see a few that I found. Remember, if your room is all beige (guilty) these little geometric designs can really add some pop without busting your budget.

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Here’s what’s what:

A. This navy blue diagonal patterned rug is from One Kings Lane and is currently on sale for $509. This is right at the top of my price point but something about that blue really stands out as luxurious and rich.

B. A bright green indoor/outdoor area rug from Target for $199. This may be my favorite of the 7 choices from above. The bright green gives you a strong pop of color without being obnoxious. Plus, the price is great!

C. And while we’re already at Target here’s another choice by Room 365 for a bit more at $280. Similar to the color pop form the rug above, this choice also gives off a similar vibe. The overlapping octagonal white shapes make this area rug somehow feel very French. It is also available in 4 other color, Dark Blue, Gray, Yellow, and Surf.

D. Called the Mohawk Ziggidy, it feels decidedly native and, well, ziggity. The rug is only $180 at Home Depot. This busy rug might do better in a larger space where it has room to ‘breath’. I think if you try to put this in a small room it may end up taking over everything and become more of a distraction that a part of the space. But, if you have a larger room this can do wonders. It adds a lot of color and pattern that can really help out a dull room.

E. Okay I lied, this Pandora Flat-Weave area rug is the most expensive at $669, also from One Kings Lane. The large octagonal pattern almost looks like a honeycomb. Plus the three colors, gold, ivory, and lavender/gray, make a good combination to help set the shapes apart from each other.

F. Diamonds are forever, at least in interior design. This side diamond rug is only $299 from CB2. This is probably the most neutral of my choices and should work really well in a small space where you don’t want to feel crowded. It is a very simple pattern with a simple two tone color scheme that’s really all you need!

G. From Bed Bath & Beyond this is also a Mohawk Ziggity rug, but in a different color choice, and at a different price point of $250. If the bright reds and yellows from option D were too much for you, perhaps the more subtle blues are your cup of tea. Don’t forget your 20% off coupon to bring the price back down closer to option D’s!