eclectic design inspiration

Monday, April 30, 2012

So Small and So Cool

As I've mentioned before, I currently live in a very small studio apartment that resembles a giant bedroom, so this year in particular I have been paying a lot of attention to Apartment Therapy's annual "Small Cool Contest." Because all homes entered into the contest must be under 1,000 square feet (and that is pretty much the only rule), it's a great place to see how others deal with little storage, tiny kitchens, lack of room divisions, and "entertaining." I'm just about convinced to start rearranging all the furniture in my apartment, a lá my favorite hobby in middle school.

There are only two days left to vote on the best of the final four, and it's a pretty big deal because the grand prize is $5,000 bucks! The entry I'm hoping wins is the smallest of the finalists, a tiny Chicago apartment measuring in at 400 square feet. I really like it because it's cute, thoughtful, and so so small. It also looks like a home that's in reach for many of us twenty-somethings. Be sure to check out who's made it to the end and throw in your own vote here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Gift Guide: Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner, so I thought I'd try to be on top of things and do a little gift guide for the special occasion. This has also been a brainstorming tool for my own gift-giving, so Mom, you're banned from this blog for the next two weeks. Even though you admitted to opening and rewrapping your Christmas presents under the tree as a kid, I'm going to trust you to stop reading now. ;)

When thinking about Mother's Day gifts, I try to come up with something that will be both very personal and a special treat, meaning I think about what my mom really likes, but I'll give her the "splurge" version that she'd never buy for herself. When creating this list I thought of what I believe my own mom would enjoy or has enjoyed receiving in the past... 

1. Above is one of the best home decorating coffee table books in existence. Created by the makers of Domino Magazine, it is a great interior style guide for anyone who appreciates a beautifully unique home. My siblings and I actually gave this book to my mother a few years back and I think we would all agree that this is one of the biggest winners so far. Oftentimes, when my mom and I are chatting on the phone and the conversations turns to interior design, she'll ask me to grab my own copy of Domino and then she'll tell me what page to turn to so I can see her latest inspiration. Then we gaga over all the beautiful photos for a half-hour. That's how we bond long-distance. :) There are all kinds of attractive coffee table books on topics ranging from Southeast Asia to Standard Poodles, so I'm sure you'll find something to your mom's liking if this is what you decide to go for. image via

2. Bird baths were a constant fixture in the gardens of my mom's house growing up. I swear we had one in the backyard, one in the front yard and one along the driveway to view out the kitchen window - she loves them. In fact, I actually stole this idea from my mom because she recently gave one to our grandmother for her birthday (even though I'm pretty sure she already had one - it runs in the family). So if your mom already has a bird bath, you could like, totally get her another one. They come in all sizes and styles from modern to baroque, and over time can gather lots of moss and look all Secret Garden-like. And the birds are so cute and fun to watch splash around in the water! Unless, of course, you're one of those people who gets creeped out by birds (my god, there are seriously so many of y'all!). In that case, onto the next... image via

3. Have you heard of Tastebook yet? If not, you're probably about to shout "Bingo!" because it's the ideal gift for anyone who enjoys cooking (and according to Facebook, pretty much everyone "likes" cooking). Basically, it's a personalized cookbook you create online by selecting recipes from sources like Epicurious, the Food Network, Bon Appetit, etc., or you can add your own with personal notes and photos. For example, when my siblings and I put one together for our mom for Christmas, we selected a photo from a family trip to Costa Rica to go on the same page as a Latin American dish (which was most likely Mexican, whatever). You can then personalize the book further by choosing the text and photos for the cover and dedication page, and with a few more clicks of the mouse - you're done. At your doorstep in no time. image via

4. I've always wanted to be a recipient of a "Gift of the Month," so why wouldn't it work for a Mother's Day gift? I'll eventually be a mother and I'm sure I'll still wish for it. I'd choose the Coffee of the Month Club for my own mom because I really don't think there's any other ritual she enjoys more (yes she calls drinking coffee a ritual). In this case, every month she would receive two different kinds of freshly roasted coffee beans from small, specialty coffee roasters around the world. Cool, right? So much better than a "treat" from Starbucks. If your mom doesn't enjoy coffee, there are dozens of other clubs out there from cupcakes to flowers. And bacon. There's a bacon club. image via

5. I may be one of the few people left who still makes mix CDs, and I enjoy pushing my music on other people so much that I don't think I'll ever stop. It takes me a loooong time to make each mix because I always reorder the songs about twenty times until they seamlessly lead into one another and the mix flows in a perfect wave from beginning to end. Phew, that was a long sentence. So if I ever make you one, you better appreciate it. Pathetically, I've only ever burned copies of albums I already had for my mom (Metric turned out to be her very favorite; yes I have a cool mom), so this time around I'm actually going to make her a mix of carefully selected songs that I think she'll really love. And of course, I'll decorate the CD with colored sharpies, because that's the really fun part, don'tcha rememba? image via

6. As we all know, one of the tried and true Mother's Day gift ideas is something that will allow your mom to be pampered a bit. This can be anything from a gift certificate for a massage, to a homemade dinner made by you, to a luxurious, super-soft set of expensive pajamas that she wouldn't have thought twice about purchasing herself. This is the time to spoil your mom, because she deserves it! image via

7. Finally, a homemade card to top it all off is something I'm definitely going to do this year (and I think you should too). I can't remember the last time I actually made a homemade card, but I know how stupidly excited I get when I receive one. Even you self-declared uncreative people can manage to make something beautiful with the wonderful help of Pinterest. Just believe in yourself! image via

And that wraps up my Mother's Day gift guide! Without a doubt pun intended. :) 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Personal Project: Art Wall (Pt. 2)

Okay so, not a ton of progress has been made with the art wall project, but there's been some. The sun has been out in Portland (finally!) and I've found myself spending my free time, ya know, sitting on rooftop bars getting happy hour, playing lawn games in the park, driving around with windows down, frappuccino in hand, reveling in the fact that Somebody That I Used To Know is on the radio 24/7 because that song is SO fun to sing along to! Not that I relate to it or anything. ;) In other words, I haven't been spending much of my time sitting inside scavenging the net or shopping indoors for pieces of artwork to add to my collection.

So... progress:

1) I decided to paint the gold frame of the plein air painting a very dark, blueish-black based on the input I got in my previous post. My thought was that the poorly applied gold made the painting look too wannabe-fancy, so I wanted to do something more understated that still made the colors pop.

I mixed generic black and blue acrylic paint that I picked up at my local art supplies store with the portions shown in the photo above. I used a large brush for most of the frame and a very tiny one for the edges closest to the canvas. There were a few times I accidentally got paint on the canvas, but I was able to wipe it off very easily with a damp cloth.

I only painted one coat because I was pressed for time (story of my life) and I wasn't totally sure about the color, plus it looked good enough to hang on the wall for a few days while I thought it over. I'm still not crazy about the painting (perhaps it was too much of an impulse buy?) but maybe it's just because it might be a little too mature for the rest of my apartment. (Ha, yeah that's probably it! See the pinata below.) Maybe if I move it to the bathroom or kitchen it will be so unexpected I'll like it again? Sitting on it...

2) Frida and Diego (whose frame I decided to leave as-is for now) were getting lonely, so to fill up some of the blank space above them I hung a painting I recently created at a one-time art class my friend Amanda and I attended on one super-wild Friday night (yeah Living Social!) And fyi, that's Oregon's Mt. Hood yo! I don't think it will stay up there forever because I'm not crazy about it, but I do like it for the moment. 

3) Finally, a while back, I was on the prowl for some kind of book-related print to hang above my bookshelf, so I pretty much struck gold when I discovered that Peter Max (one of my favorite artists) had created a poster for National Library Week in 1969.  I found a print of it on Ebay and going with the bright color palette, I bought a royal blue frame at Ikea for only $8.99. Framed on top of white paper, it declares, "Be All You Can Be. Read." :)

And the "art wall" still-in-progress:

Really excited to get that Alexandra Valenti photograph on the wall. :) Until next time...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fave Find: Alexandra Valenti Photography

I came across Alexandra's work through a Design*Sponge post featuring her series shot in Wimberley, Texas entitled "Leslie Crow," and immediately started thinking about all of the things I'd be willing to give up if it meant I could own one of these prints (thinking about that art wall project, people!). Happy hours? Done. Magazines? Yup. Gilt Groupe membership? Sure. Fancy Starbucks coffees? Yes. Netflix account? Ummmmm for how long? See, I just started the second season of Friday Night Lights and I have to know if **SPOILER ALERT - jk, I know everyone but me has already seen the whole show** Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen get back together. (Even though I am definitely not a Julie fan right now and think he deserves waaay better.)

I decided to email her. 

And she was so, so nice! I found out that she was in the process of setting up an online shop and that prints could be ordered there. And they are affordable! My compulsive gut feeling was correct - it was meant to be. 

This is the photo I ended up purchasing because it is just so Texas and since I'm from there, creates a real since of nostalgia for summers back in the day. I also love the whimsy of the colorful pool below and I know that seeing this photo in my apartment every day will be a very smile-inducing thing.

 If this one ever becomes available to purchase, it may become #2 in my apartment. It gives me a totally different feeling than the rope swing photo; it's mysterious and I'm getting a sort of celestial sci-fi vibe. Love it.

This is just a tiny, tiny bit of this gracious and talented artist's work. Isn't it so cool?

Do your life a favor and check out her website here:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Falling for Florals

(photo taken this morning at the Oregon Tulip Fest)

a girlie phase + spring time + a love for color = my floral obsession

I even have a flower painted on my face as I'm typing this 


And here's your visual inspiration:

Happy Sunshine Saturday. :) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Modern Farmhouse: they nailed it

I've just had one of those super dorky "the world needs to see this!!" moments, so this is me sharing some photos from the remarkably beautiful Hudson Valley farmhouse of Raina Kattleson and Robert Buscher, which was just featured in an Apartment Therapy house tour. Mind blown. It's not typically what I go for, but when something is absolutely wonderful, you just can't ignore it. Their sense of style, attention to detail and vision of a "modern farmhouse" is quite impressive. Check out the full interview and slideshow at AT here, and my favorite pics (practically all of them) below. 

Yes to the wood bar.

My dream house definitely has an apron sink.

Teal, white, ivory, sky blue, brown and silver. Perfection.

 Love it ALL.

Detail, detail, detail. 

 Mesmerized by the artwork. Getting a Pan's Labyrinth vibe.

That lamp.

I'm a sucker for stylish vignettes.

...Fantastic, right?

And just so you can see what this house looked like when they bought it...

I toldddd you they were impressive!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

help! how in the world should I frame this art?

I have this art wall project on the brain, and I've found myself re-evaluating the art I already have displayed in my apartment. I love both pieces (yes there are only two... and as different as Draper and Dunphy) but want to do something new with the frames because I'm not in love with them

The first is a colorful piece of folk art (2 x 1.5 ft.) made by an artist in Mexico City that I found at an art store here in Portland. Created with photos, markers and glitter pens, it is absolutely one of my favorite possessions because it is so unique. And it celebrates Frida and Diego, so how can one not love it?

But, I'm not really feeling that wooden frame anymore; it's a little gloomy and too heavy. Keeping in mind that I've recently been drawn to skinny, bright frames for an art wall, I can't decide if I want to switch it up with some light-colored matting and a brightly colored frame (say hot pink or green) or no matting and a neutral colored frame. Or maybe I should just leave it as is and see if it looks better when surrounded by other pieces? (Because at one point I did love that frame!)

Secondly, this is a vintage painting (4 x 3 ft.) that caught my eye at an antique store in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland because of its beautiful colors.  I also have a weakness for plein air style landscape paintings, so when the dealer said he'd sell it to me for $40 I jumped on it. (I couldn't help but smile like a goon when he told me the price, surrendering any ability to haggle for less - which is always the fun part.) 

This time around, I really, really don't like the frame. But, because the painting is old and one bump away from tearing, I don't think I should try and reframe it. Instead I'll just have to carefully paint over that really sad attempt at faux-antique gold (which takes the painting way too seriously, wouldn't you agree?). Since it's too big to go on my art wall, I have a little bit more flexibility but the only thing I can think of is extra-dark navy to make the colors really pop. 

So... what kind of framing do you think would look best with these pieces of art?