Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't put that toy away!

That actually could be what you yell to your children if they're lucky enough to have one of Brinca Dada's dollhouses that look like they've jumped straight off the pages of Dwell magazine. Stylish enough to rival any coffee table book, the modern "Emerson" house features many extras including mitered-glass corners, wood floors, two fireplaces, sliding glass doors, solar panels, and recessed LED lights. Naturally, the house is easy on the environment with only non-toxic and lead-free wood stains and paints.

The Emerson (via Brinca Dada)

The De Stijl inspired "Bennet" townhouse features a two-story living room, elevator, roof top pool and glass rail balconies in both the master bedroom and children’s bedroom.

The Bennet (via Brinca Dada)
Now that you have your hip living pad you can't outfit it with anachronous red oak kitchen cabinets, one asks incredulously. Not to worry. Sleek kitchens, spa-like bathroom fixtures, and modish furnishings are available to complete your dream house ( err . . . Fruedian slip . . . I meant "your child's" dream house).

(via Brinca Dada)

(via Brinca Dada)
The only thing they don't have quite right yet is their bug-eyed, android looking dolls. Brinca Dada claims their family is "minimalist and striking" but they strike me as scary depictions of the human race. Although, in their favor, their posable and fully articulated forms might keep me entertained with their flexing biceps and calves.

This toy is bound to make the neighbor kids jealous . . . or at least, their parents.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It must be Fall . . . Time for Open Studios in Boulder

Open Studios Fall Artist Tour, featuring 127 Boulder artists who graciously open their studios for visits, to answer questions, and give demonstrations, begins again this weekend, 2-3 October and continues next weekend, 9-10 October. Fall Tour Maps are available for you to tailor your own self-guided journey through the personal work spaces of these talented artists.

A personal favorite, Lael Har, an engaging down-to-earth woman, will be exhibiting her vivid contemporary impressionistic acrylic paintings. Painterly, juicy, and expressive, Lael's work is inspired by natural beauty and is influenced by her spiritual upbringing.

Here are just a few of her extensive portfolio:

Other favorites:


Caroline Douglas Sculptures (via)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DIY:  Is Your Home for Sale? Stage your Home and get Your Bucks!
Staging your home can help you sell it more quickly and maximize your profits.  Staging is what happens after you’ve cleaned and de-cluttered, painted, and made any needed repairs.  Staging a house creates the illusion of an ideal, comfortable, loving home, welcoming buyers in - and getting them to sign on the dotted line.
First Step - Clean the Stage:
  • Clean and organize EVERYTHING. Don’t just shove things in a closet or cupboard. People who are considering purchasing a home look everywhere (yes, even in your undie drawer!). A clean, well-organized home tells the buyer that you enjoyed living there and maintained it lovingly. 
  • Have the windows professionally washed; a clean, bright connection to the outdoors does wonders. Consider removing the screens (put them in the garage) for the best, clear view possible. 
  • De-personalize the space.  It’s a good idea to remove scraps of paper, your mail, other miscellaneous "junk", any religious artifacts, and pictures of Aunt Nellie's 90th birthday stuck to the frig. 
  • Invest in a fresh coat of paint, change the carpeting, and have your wood floors lightly sanded. Unless it's fabulous already, these small investments make your home feel clean, fresh and sparkle like new.
    Second Step - Set the Stage:
    • "Three" Rules! To highlight features like built-in shelves, try grouping three related objects together, or accentuate related themes.  When adding accessories to a coffee table or counter-top, add visual interest by varying the height of the accessories selected.  For example, you might use a tall vase of fresh flowers, a candle, and a stack of books or magazines.
    • Life is Easy! Create the image that your home is easy to maintain, and you can live there graciously, no matter the size. A large home shouldn’t appear that it is high-maintenance; a small home or condo should feel cozy, not cramped.
    • Clean Up Your Act! You still need to live in the house with your mail and other necessities; putting them in baskets creates a showroom-like way to keep your junk close.
    • Don't Forget to Smell the Flowers! Fresh flowers add a gracious and welcoming energy to a room
    • Judge a Book by Its Cover! Pack all books unless they are arranged solely for display. Leave only hardcover books, organized by size and the color of their covers. Turn books so the white edges of their pages show rather than the binders and they'll appear uniform. Stack them on top of each other for true "window shopping" display!
    • Color me YOURS! Neutralize your home's color scheme so others can imagine theirs in your space. Color is allowed in small doses and as an accent only. Stick to more neutral tones with accents that are more universally accepted; warm olives, rich reds or butter yellows - in small doses. Do not scream, "Look at me!" 
    • Let's Party! Highlight a small area for entertaining, whether it be a couple of elegant glasses and wine rack, a stack of nice dishes and cloth napkins, or an attractive coffee pot and large mugs. It conveys that your home is inviting, you're proud to have people in your nest and you're not afraid of entertaining no matter what the size!
    • Put furniture in an empty house! An empty house looks dejected. Unfortunately, most people don't have the imagination to see beyond what is immediately in front of them. And if what they see is completely empty, they're imagining a life void of feeling and expression. Sounds depressing, aye? No need to stage every room of an empty house; just key rooms if that's is all you can afford.
    The Last Scene - Getting Help:
    • Look to home furnishings catalog; Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Ballard Design to name a few, for ideas on display to appeal to the masses. The photo vignettes and products on right are all by Pottery Barn.
    • If you still need help or don't have the time to do it right, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL! 

    (via designhouse) An long, narrow living room with a cold floor gets a warm welcome with staging.
    (via designhouse) A small, empty dining room appears welcoming and cozy with just a few touches.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    I admit it, I'm Flighty

    I'm not ready to let summer go. Yes, I know, I should revel in the rustling leaves, cool breezes and look forward to wearing the dozens of sweaters that stack my closet shelves; soft cashmere, vintage Ralph Lauren and Nanny's - my English grandmother - hand knit originals that I can't bear to part with. But, Boulder is not ready for Fall yet, either, I realized as I lay upon the deck chaise pulled under the shade of a tree. Listening to birds chirp in the afternoon heat reaching almost ninety degrees, I was having capricious thoughts of installing a lap pool wedged into the side of the mountain next to our home (that won't be too expensive, will it?). And then I can wake in the morning, sink into the cool water as the birds sing around me.

    But, the birds are not long for this Indian Summer, I'm afraid. My only flights of fancy are these bird motif gems that I found on Save-On-Crafts, a wonderful resource not only for the professional party planner or gift wrapper, but someone flighty like me.

    A pretty way to present presents, a pretty way to deposit your personals.
    I'm recommending that my client (my sister!) purchase these to deposit mail, keys and other small personal effects.

    Wood crate with twelve speckled natural quail eggs.

    35" high metal easel and bird detail.
    Whimsical paper covered guest books by Rag & Bone.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Wood Warmth

    Perhaps it's the time of year that makes me want to be surrounded by comforting furniture, pieces well worn with a story that you can only imagine. Actually, I think the fact that I've been fighting a cold for the last few days accounts more for my desire to envelope myself in easy fitting clothes and lounge upon cozy furniture rather than the time of year. My husband just accused me of wearing one of his shirts. Perfectly slouchy on me, the right combination of cotton and synthetics makes it look as if it's been his favorite for years. But it is actually a recent Loehmann's purchase - in the women's department - for $6.00 (on sale, of course). I loved that it felt as if it had been around for years; had some history, just as reclaimed wood seems to have. Always wanting to build my own furniture from salvaged wood, I'm sure he'd think I stole the pieces from him as well; his fire wood pile. And that time . . . he might be right.

    Here are some of my desired old-be-it-new-again pieces that I would love to have right about now. Just add a sheepskin rug and my cocoon is complete.
    (via Andre Joyau)
    Via Viva Terra
    Via Viva Terra
    Via Stranger Furniture
    Via Viva Terra

    Via Whitmcleod
    More Felt . . .
    Another felted object but this representation is that of the natural environment rather than the creature world. Viva Terra's merino wool felt rocks are treated with a water resistant coating suitable for inviting and buoyantly comfortable seating.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    What is this?

    Hmm . . . what is this? A funny felt hat?
    I came across this odd item in an article that my sister sent to me. It looked like a funny felted hat. Since the article was on the increase of bedbugs in hotel rooms, I thought that there was some mistake. But, no mistake, it is an extreme close-up of a bedbug. I still see some sort of felted hat with an orange Kermit on top, knitting, and it made me think about the odd felted items that I've come across lately that I've posted below.

    Cow Vessel by Lori Flood
    This felted cow vessel. Kind of fun. Whimsical.

    Plucked Chicken by Stephanie Metz
    This felted chicken with human-like legs. Kind of odd. Kind of scary.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Ultra Cool Looking Products . . . 

    The "Ciclotte" via, Photo by Christian Stoll
    . . . and at $10,700 you've got to be ultra rich to be able to throw down that kind of money on this stationary exercise bike designed by Luca Schieppati. Yes, an exercise bike. Look closely; those devil horns are actually handles. Although, if you can fit comfortably on that seat you probably don't need to lose any weight due to it's minuscule size, its combination of steel, carbon and glass fiber are sure to support the heftiest of frames. But, you cannot deny it, it is beautiful. It is so ultra cool looking that it is now part of Milan’s Triennale Design Museum permanent collection. Now stop staring in awe at its sexy minimalist design wondering where your money went and get on and start peddling!
    The Dyson's Air Multiplier Bladeless Fan via
    At $299.99 for a table top version to $449.99 for the pedestal style, these  fans are pricey but don't break the bank. According to, the "Air Multiplier" technology draws in air and amplifies it – from 15 to 18 times, depending on the model. Instead of chopping and hurling air at you like conventional fans (ouch! sounds painful!), the Air Multiplier in essence works like a vacuum cleaner in reverse. Air is sucked in the motor base and pushes it up into the ring which rushes out the tiny, millimeter-long slots that run along the circular frame. As the air emerges, it creates a circular low-pressure region that pulls in the air from behind — creating a fairly uniform flow of air through the ring.

    Now, if it truly works well, I'd build it into a wall capturing a vignette of the space beyond while cooling off those in front without any knowledge of where that lovely breeze is coming from!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    I Refuse to Let Go!!

    Today is the last day of summer. But, I refuse to let go! My friend's daughter bought these flowers for her for no reason other than to say, "You're wild, you're wonderful, and I love you!" I love the raucous colors of this bouquet. They're obstinate, noisy and vibrant and embodies my refusal to allow the upcoming fall season to quiet me.

    Tango Illustrated

    I love Dvora's paintings, an improvisational dance of color exploding with energy. Combining her two passions, painting and tango, Dvora now does both in her Salida, Colorado studio, Casa Tango.

    Check out Casa Tango in the post below - Let's Dance!

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Let's Dance!
    The "Family Style" kitchen combining new and used cabinets, salvaged granite and French doors to each the bedroom and office, and several other Craig's List purchased equipment, fixtures and furniture.
    100+ year old wood floors were restored beautifully. Dvora's tango art adorns the walls of the combined dance studio and art gallery.
    The master bath which boasts a "wet room" including both the shower and bathtub and an operable window for an overall larger feel and an natural ventilation.
    They met on the dance floor . . . and the idea for Casa Tango was born. When Dvora Kanegis and Steve Keefer purchased a property with an interesting past, they had a dream. The couple envisioned an artistic, inviting home where friends and family could gather. They also hoped to create a place for tango dancers to learn, dance, interact and feel like part of the family. It was also extremely important to them to leave the smallest footprint possible on the earth while creating the home of their dreams.

    Working together, we renovated the 100-year-old former bar and dance hall, creating a sustainable home equipped not only with green technologies but salvaged and repurposed materials, fixtures and components. The space combines a 1,500 square foot residence with an equal amount of commercial space, carefully crafted to meet the couple's needs as a combined painting and tango studio, workshop, gallery, and office. Dvora and Steve salvaged materials in this renovation and scoured Craig's List and ebay to find what they needed for this unique project.

    Although this Salida showplace is still on the grid with city electricity available, it is self-sufficient. We had geo-thermal and solar panels installed and used sustainable practices when renovating this structure. Radiant heat warms the residence on those chilly Colorado nights, while the studio is heated and cooled by a geo-thermal system. It boasts one full bath, a 3/4 bath, and a 1/2 bath as well - perfect for guests. Each one comes equipped with low flow toilets and shower heads, all found on Craig's List.

    We refurbished the original wood floors in the studio; demolished studs and other wood in the existing structure was converted into wood chips, to be used for landscaping the exterior. Nothing was taken to a landfill - we sold, re-used, or recycled everything taken from the house.

    In order to help with water conservation, Dvora used xeriscape plants like Siberian Pea Plants, Juniper, and Canadian Choke Cherry. These plants are low-maintenance, very hardy, and they can survive with little water, making them a natural choice for the environmentally conscious homeowners. With a little love - and the right designer - this hall is ready to move to the music once again!

    To view more photos of this mixed-use project visit designhouse's website and look for Casa Tango under "portfolio>residential."
    For more information of Casa Tango's builder, please visit Maysvilles Builders.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Now, that's Livin' off the Land! 
    It’s been a busy summer.  One of my newest projects is creating a master plan for a client in Salida, Colorado, who wants to create a sustainable living center.  They hope to host seminars on many aspects of sustainable living at the five-acre site, and are planning to garden and raise chickens.  I’m currently researching different types of greenhouse construction for this project. 
    Ellyn Hillard, of Twelve Ways Healing Center , directed me to the website Ellyn, who grows many of her own fruits and vegetables, uses a Growing Spaces Geodesic Dome to supply clients with the freshest produce and juices year-round.  Even tough-to-grow foods like citrus fruits, avocados, and artichokes can thrive in a geodesic dome.  Imagine picking a ripe, juicy orange in the middle of winter!  With a geodesic dome, sustainable fresh produce is at your fingertips!  Talk about livin’ off the land- in style!
     To learn more about Ellyn and the Gerson Juicing Method visit

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    There's No Place Like Home

    What would your house look like if you had the opportunity to create a brand new one from scratch?

    I just returned home after being evacuated for a week from our neighborhood. After the long holiday weekend of dancing tango to the wee hours, my husband and I awoke to an eerily orange hazy sky. Upon first blush, this moon-like atmosphere was not alarming. After dancing to un-Godly hours in the morning for the last several days, we were used to feeling as if we were in a suspended dimension devoid of the surety of any particular time of day. But quickly the distinctive smell of fire was detected. Too pervasive to be the burning of fall leaves (and too early; after all, it's only mid September - and besides something that is never done in the overly-suck-the-life-out-of-your-skin Colorado weather anyway) it is immediately recognized as a wildfire. And not too far away.

    We've been through this before. Sort of. Over a year ago we had front row seats in our living room to a wildfire burning about a mile away from our house. We prepared for the possible evacuation by packing what we thought were our "irreplaceable" items. So this time, as ash slowly fell from the sky like the beginnings of an amazing snowstorm, I suggested that we start to put in boxes what we would like to take for the inevitable evacuation.

    Again we pack. This time we pile in not only precious photos but all of the negatives dating back to my husband's middle school years. Well loved, expensive and essentially now irreplaceable coats of mine are packed along with jewelry, an Hermes scarf, a borrowed Louis Vuitton clutch, tango shoes and hundreds of tango CDs, along with the expected important documents, few days change of clothes and computer equipment. We move into our temporary digs, a house of a good friend whom lucky for all of us, happens to be traveling. We settle in and set up our computers. Claim the space for which we think may work the best for each of us. Immediately I know it will be a challenge to actually get anything accomplished. Trying to be productive while perched upon a vinyl covered wooden bar stool? Not going to happen. Eating dinner at a glass topped brass tone (painted) metal base table and checking emails while sinking into a deep seated plaid Lazy Boy type chair within a house that has ceiling heights barely more than seven feet tall and windows shrouded by low, vine covered overhangs makes me feel closed in and a bit trapped.

    I'm fully aware of how the space makes me feel and why. I'm a big believer in the notion that the space in which you find yourself, especially the one in which you regularly inhabit, affects not only your emotions, but your productivity and general outlook on life. My husband, however, does not typically analyze his surroundings as I do being a designer. So, I watch his transformation in our borrowed abode. He struggles to stay focused on any one task. He intermittently follows the news on the devastating results of the fire in the midst of his attempt to organize his workload. He becomes quiet compared to his usual exuberant Chatty Cathy self. On the third evening of our stay as we arrive at a restaurant for a dinner out, he suddenly comes out of his shell exclaiming how depressing our friend's house feels. Later, he vows to go to a coffee house or the library the next day to actually get some work done on his laptop.

    We were one of the lucky ones. I did not have to click my ruby slippers three times to get back home (good thing, because I didn't pack them for the evacuation). Our house did not burn down. We are so thankful to all of the firemen that worked day and night, risking their own lives (and many losing their own homes to this fire) and grateful that there were no lives lost nor bodily injuries. But as devastating as losing one's home and the memories within it is, if you had the opportunity to rebuild, to layout the house with the views that best feed your soul, to create the space with the style that you love, the materials that feel right on the end of your fingertips, what would that look like?

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Livin' off the Land, Baby, Livin' off the Land!
    That has been the motto lately of my insanely obsessive and thoroughly endearing husband. It's said tongue in cheek as we are not, and not without some guilt, living off the land. Recently he has become obsessed with not only mushroom hunting and cucumber pickling, but concocting anything he can think of with choke cherries. I should not be surprised at this. As a native of Poland, he comes from crazy gardening parents (his words, not mine), where mushroom hunting is a national pastime, pickles are a food mainstay and vodka is as important as mother's milk. As a designer in love with the visual arts it gives me yet another opportunity to play. So, I've been spending any free moment in the last few days designing labels for his gifts. We are so ready for Christmas!
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