Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quick update

Much as I enjoy making fun of design trends and motifs I think are a little bit weird, I actually have an apartment and career to consider.

Exciting news #1 I purchased a vintage poster for the apartment. Should arrive soon. My pop art was kind of lonely all by itself.

Exciting news #2 I found some leftover initiative in the back of the fridge and I looked into a design-based masters program. Their head of admissions liked what I had to say. It's in interior architecture, which is like actual architecture divided by knowing how to build a building. So, I can make a building, but only the inside parts. On the other hand, I'm told one of the million dollar designers only hires from this program. Nothing's set in stone.

Friday, October 28, 2011

If looks could kill

Anytime they suspected their dinner guests would overstay their welcome, they prepared in advance by wheeling out the minotaurette statue. By the time the dessert course came out, even the most stout-hearted guest would check their watch and anxiously eye the door. No-one was immune to the steely gaze of the minotaurette.

Image lovingly stolen from Desire to Inspire

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Being green is not hard. Really.

Apartment Therapy recently trumpeted green as a great way for people in the northern hemisphere to keep that sense of spring and summer alive into the colder months. Some of the suggestions were less successful than the others. Without further ado, I present a little version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:
The character and aged patina of the cabinet plays well against the white walls, while the more abstracted floral motif in the wall hanging is echoed in the plants on top of the cabinet.

The Bad:
The green carpet and very light and clean feeling office furniture keeps this feeling very 60s. But not in the cool retro kind of 60s, more like the 'isn't it about time they renovated?' 60s. Not a fan of the green carpets.

The Ugly:

If the green carpets were the early, business-like, Mad Men 60s, these walls are the 1967 Summer of Love long hair kind of 60s. And it's a bad trip, baby.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And now a beautiful moot point

One upside about living alone in a very small apartment in a temperate climate zone is that my energy bills tend to be pretty low. My only guilty pleasure is that I enjoy long, hot showers. I'm sorry planet. I'll make it up to you somehow.

If, however I didn't have all those advantages, I'd want to have a way to keep the bills low, the planet from becoming all hellish and apocalyptic, and most of all, I want it to look pretty. This is where Nest comes in.

Nest is like that beige box that's connected to the heating and cooling in your space, except they made it look pretty. One dial, a screen and some graphics. It's straight out of the Dieter Rams school of design. Mainly because it's been designed partially by the man behind the iPod.

Here it is in action, if you like the youtube.

The best part is it's a learning robot. It has either an advanced computer algorithm, or straight up magic that learns when you do and do not use the heating/cooling system and it turns the dial for you. It's like Skynet, but instead of being evil, it keeps you warm when it's cold out, and cool when its hot out. I'm totally installing one of these in my future hypothetical house, once I get things like money.

Image lovingly stolen from Nest.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Windows, vista

A bit of backstory: When I toured the building, I had the option of two apartments: one in the middle of the building with one window in the main room, and one at the back of the building with two. Not wanting to lose out on the building with the shortest commute, I decided to put a claim down on the one I thought was less desirable that nobody else with better credit would beat me to. I miss windows. The one window doesn't provide all that much ambient light. In that vein, let's look at this inspirational image, lovingly stolen from Design Milk

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In which I accept that I am a bad housekeeper

Ideas? loads of them. First steps towards those inroads? Usually pretty good.

Follow-through? Not so much. For a case study on my procrastination, consider my Case Study cabinet.

As seen on Apartment Therapy!

I purchased this because I decided what my apartment really needed was a little more of a work surface in the kitchen. Plus I did some measurements and it was going to fit well in the kitchen. It's where my recipe books and (eventually) big ol' Kitchenaid mixer will go.

The problem? One bolt was missing.

The lovely folks at Modernica said they would provide a replacement part. Keep in mind that I'm not the original owner, and they still offered me the missing part. That's customer service.

The point of this story is that I had this email in my inbox telling me to come pick up the replacement screw for probably 2 months. I picked the screw up today. Has anyone else ever let a small task like this go undone for a long time? Or are y'all the sort of get it done now types?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's reasons like these I made my blog

I hate to be a cynic or a curmudgeon. I try my best to see the most positive attributes in things. But New York Social Diary you make it so so difficult. If you read The article you learn the residents have a substantial and wide-ranging collection of art and artefacts, including a harpsichord. The apartment, though small is filled with accoutrements that are interesting (and probably pretty pricy, given how much name-dropping NYSD is doing). The fixtures are all very high quality. Even the cord above the chandeleir is silk-wrapped. But they painted the walls this color.
This is one of those times when I'm kind of okay with the ridiculously crowded gallery wall because it means there's less of that color showing through.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


When I dream, spaces take on lives of their own and come together in ways that are non-traditional, but make sense in that dream. This house reminds me of the kinds of architectures I construct in my dreams. This house was built in Japan for a family of four, with a very specific goal: divisions where each family member could have their own individual space, but which kept the feel of a single space, rather than a collection of rooms.
I think they've accomplished that. One space, but with clear divisions. Here's a reverse angle:
Stairs wind up to each bedroom. Not the most efficient, but it offers a unique way to preserve the sense of space, and offer each bedroom access to the shared space. If any of this is hard to visualize, here's a floorplan for the upper level of the house:
Could you live in a house like this? When you dream, what do your dream houses look like? images lovingly stolen from ArchDaily

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Concert posters are one of those well-designed and unique ways to introduce some art into your space. Now a company called BetterWall looks like they're doing gig posters for the public radio crowd. BetterWall sells outdoor banners used to advertize art exhibitions at museums in major cities (LA, NY, Denver... sadly no Minneapolis).
I'm a huge fan of the Ruscha banner, but then again he's probably my favorite living artist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The stuff nightmares are made of

I've been sleeping well. The ikea mattress/futon is pretty comfy, and even though the slipcover is about as gentle and soothing on the skin as a cardboard loofah, I'm able to fall asleep and wake up right when I'm supposed to. This restfulness will all change because I've just seen this: a bowl with feet by Dylan Kendall
Terror. Inducing.
Just because you can put feet on something does not mean you should.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The new thing I'm drooling over

I'd written previously about how much I really wanted a Dyson magic fan. (not its actual name, but I think we all know what I'm talking about here). Well, between getting my mini fan and not actually having a place to put the magic fan, I'm going to have to cut it from my list of awesome things to get. Womp womp. Instead, I'm going to get one of these!
House Industries has made some pretty cool things, but in a collaboration with Herman Miller of Japan, they're producing a series of tables inspired by some of House's more iconic fonts. The downside? There's only going to be 80 of them. And they're all in Japan. And you thought the Missoni for Target lines were cutthroat. However, the wire-base tables appear on my local craigslist from time to time. If I was crafty, I could probably DIY something kind of like this. But I'd feel a little guilty about modifying a vintage table, especially if it turned out badly. Anyone else ever feel furniture modification guilt? Who's booking a plane ticket to Japan to pick up one of these?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Enter the handles

They've finally arrived. turns out, 4-6 weeks is kind of a long time when you're waiting for something. So the winning handle was *drumroll please*
Handle 3! While they were the most expensive, they were also the ones I enjoyed holding the most, and I felt like they fit the scale of the drawers a lot better. These things are heavy too. I feel like I could have used them as weapons. Which leads to the bathroom. I wanted something a little more fun in there, so I went for these. They're a matte finish that was a really close match with the shower curtain.
Here's a slightly wider angle. I think it adds that something extra that's been missing. Well, one of the something extras.
All in all, I think these were worth the almost 2 month wait. Do any of you ever replace the little things like handles, or do you focus more on the larger projects?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Here's what I'm drooling over this week.
I just wish that I had more gift exchanges and housewarming parties that I could use this as my offering. It's cool without being super-practical. Yes, that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Besides, what better way to get toddlers to appreciate Albers and Aicher? Knoll Textiles
If my coffee table didn't already have a book, I'd consider getting this one. It's encyclopedic and it covers a topic I'm interested in. I only wish I had $75 to spend on a coffee table book. For the record, that's like 4 times what the actual coffee table itself cost. What are you wishlisting? And do you also do the coffee table book thing, or do you put other things (such as coffee) there?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not digging it.

Restoration Hardware has a new catalog out for their fall lineup. They heavily tout a couple chandeliers, and I've got to admit... I'm not really a fan.

I think I can pinpoint exactly why I'm not digging them. Were it a single bulb in a birdcage (which is totally a thing) I'd be cool with it. That's a fixture where the birdcage takes up space in an interesting way.

For the restoration hardware piece, I can see how they'd go for an interesting juxtaposition of the sparse birdcage with an ornate and lush chandelier. But for me, something's lost in the fusion of the two into a unified element. The other way to create that tension is to actually juxtapose sparse, aged and somewhat mechanical elements with lush and decadent ones. Of course, that's an interior design solution, not a furniture making solution.

Also, that placement is WAY too low. When you stand up to get into or out of the sofa, you're IN the chandelier. Bad designer/catalog creative director! Bad!

Image lovingly stolen from Restoration Hardware. Original inspiration via MadeByGirl

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Two of the long-standing problems with my apartment have been fixed. I now have both a working outlet by the comfy chair, and a working vent above the stove. How happy am I?

That happy. Thanks Etsy

But now, some other switching things around happened at the apartment.

The 99 cent art? fixed.

The homemade pop art? Hung.

The Aesthetic Apparatus poster? Moved to the kitchen.

The housewarming went well. 11 people fit in my apartment. And they all had places to sit.
Handles? Coming this weekend, allegedly. Refinishing the 4 cheap chairs? Slow but steady progress. Very slow progress.
Anyone have any tips for sanding complex curves in furniture? There are some very tight nooks and crannies I need to get all sanded.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Part of a long-term side side side project I'm looking into. So what are the things I'm studying most right now?

This is a concept for whiskey aficionados called the Johnny Walker House. Built in Shanghai, the three-story construction is designed to be a sort of feast for the senses; a sort of experiential building.

The tasting alcove idea is hardly original, but it looks good. Solidly masculine, the overhead lighting fills the overhead space so it feels intimate, yet also leaves enough breathing room.

I'm a sucker for rich aubergine colored walls.

Not all of the rooms are hits, this one strikes me as bizarre, reminiscent of a bad 70s lounge.

Really? We're using top hats as lighting fixtures now? It falls more along the lines of kitschy than classy.
If you read the press release (which is basically ArchDaily's coverage of the space) you can kind of understand what they're getting at.

images lovingly stolen from ArchDaily.
In an entirely unrelated note, my sources tell me that the Missoni for Target collaboration will be available online (and possibly in some stores) as early as the 12th, not the 13th. If you want that bike, better get there early.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is this how to live in 125 square feet?

One of the recent Apartment Therapy posts on small kitchens featured images from a small studio apartment. How small? 125 square feet. Let's look at what you can fit into a space that small.

I don't like it.

I think it does a great job of illustrating a particular design point of view. I think that if Kristen was in one of those HGTV Design Star white box challenges, she'd get major points for showing her aesthetic in a way that's unmistakeable and visually arresting.

But how are you supposed to live in this space? If you make any sort of accommodation that means you can have guests over and entertain, you lose the visual effect. It feels like a design exercise more than a liveable apartment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Repotting a succulent for dummies

I decided to visit the local hardware and garden supply store today, to tackle a couple smaller projects, and get the materials for a larger project.

And now, you get to meet Prince.

Of my four plants, Prince was the one doing the best. So well he'd outgrown his pot. So I got him a bigger and better one. It's one those things where the ceramic pot looks nicer than the plastic pot he came in, and the potting soil is of a higher quality. There's also that weird moment where I said to myself You live in an apartment, you don't even have your own outside to plant things in, and you're buying dirt. You're serious about this, aren't you?


The one thing I've learned about Echeveria, it's that you have to remove the outermost leaves from time to time, because they'll get mealy bugs in them if you don't. Also, water the soil, not the plant. Water will get trapped in the rosettes and cause the plant to rot. This happened to Kermit, my other Echeveria (who's green, not purple). Poor thing's still recovering.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The stoves have eyes

Good news on the landlord front. After a month and a half, my non-working outlet has been fixed. This just leaves the oven (fire hazard) and stove vent (non-existent, would be nice to have).

The landlord and I have a teensy communication issue. We use different words for things. So when the maintenance man came 'round to check out the stove, the landlord told me the issue was maybe with the stove's "eyes". Knobs? Burners? Turns out that he thought the issue was with the burners, when the issue was with a stain above the broiler. I drew him a map to the stain, so we'll see if it gets resolved.

Inspired by this progress, I decided to see what else *I* needed to do in the apartment.

Hang photo above bed/sofa

Living room:
Hang small Chinese art (Fixed it! Now all I need is a nail)
Sell chairs
Install curtains (I really hate the vertical blinds, and the landlord gave me the ok)
Put Prince in a larger pot (It'll make sense when you see the photos)
"Restore" fake Eames lounger
Re-finish folding chair. (Paint?)
Figure out how to get a TV in here.

Replace handles (en route)
Mount poster on fridge (just need some magnets)
Project to add some color to the space (planned, probably happening in a couple months)
Organize drawers

Dining room:
Get some flowers for the table
Hang up homemade pop art poster (again, it's the little things you don't realize you need until you don't have them. Like nails)
Hang up other planned poster (it's a secret!)(sort of)
Re-finish chairs

Install handles (en route)
Art for back wall?

More organization (tie rack, tidy things up a bit)

It's a pretty good-sized list for a small space. It's not like a lot of these are things that *need* to be done, it's just me wanting to take it to the next level.

Hope y'all are having a productive weekend too!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shaking things up

Shaking things up at this little corner of the web. Trying out a new layout, something a little cleaner and a little classier. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the formatting of all my older posts is going to be a bit off. Also, I'm taking care of some other changes to keep things so fresh and so clean clean. Re-working the logo, trying to add in some features and headers. We'll see how it works out.

Of course if you get the RSS Feed you don't need to worry about any of this. And if you don't get the RSS feed, why not? It's free! And that's cheap at half the price.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting back to my roots

When I started this blog, I was not an apartment-owner. I was not covering the slow transformation of a space. I was covering ridiculous product shots.

I'm baaaaaaack
Today's questionable product shot comes courtesy of Design Milk
This is one of a series of lamps made by Enrique Romero de la Llana. Made from recycled newspaper, the lamps are delicate, lightweight and very green.

Apparently, they're also bloodthirsty.

This is another one of those uncanny valley images. However, this is what popped into my mind:

Image lovingly stolen fromDesign Milk

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My new biggest fan

And by biggest, I mean the exact opposite of biggest.

Here's the whole backstory. The air conditioner in my apartment isn't working because the outlet it would plug in to isn't working. (I mean, it's only been 2 months since I reported the problem, so it's not like the management isn't doing their job or anything)
So to avoid heatstroke, my girl friend lent me her fan. The only place where there was room for it? The kitchen counter.

A ridiculous setup, but an effective one.

Today I was at target, when I came across a fan that's a lot more suited to my living arrangement. Small enough to fit in my room divider/bookshelf. I hope it's also powerful enough, because August can get painfully warm in LA.

How are y'all beating the heat? (and for my readers in the Southern Hemisphere, are y'all looking forward to the summer months?)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

Hi readers!
This is one of those things that I've always wondered about. When you're not blogging, what do you do? I'll go first:

Hi, I'm Nick. When I'm not blogging, my real job is working for a PR firm. I also go to a handful of open mics from time to time.

What about you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The vandals took the handles

I'd selected a winner for the kitchen handles, only to discover that the hardware store would have to re-order the ones I wanted. So in 'a few weeks', y'all will find out which one won. I know, the suspense is killing me too.

But I did take one major breakthrough.

It opens all the way! Kudos to Amber Von Felts for giving me the idea. And all I had to do was turn the fridge sideways. This actually opened up a little more space in the kitchen, which I put to good use.

A little more kitchen storage space. It's from Modernica and it's in quite good condition. Right now it's slated for cookbook storage, with maybe a wine rack on top. Because all the 2 buck chuck I drink deserves a wine rack.

But there it is. I'm... done buying furniture. It's all where it needs to be. It's nice to know I can actually focus on enjoying my apartment now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Suddenly a dining room appears.

Far off into the mists, a hazy figure slowly takes shape. It is.... my dining "room". I needed three elements to create the dining space:
1. an arc lamp
2. a table, and
3. some chairs.

Boy was I prolific. Three days. Bam Bam and Bam. Checkmarks on all three. I was originally going to parcel these out as separate posts, but that's lame. Y'all are busy and have lots to do. Instead, you get one mega post.

Here's the whole space.

The arc lamp is apparently a pretty nice model. Purchased because the store In Mode has a horrible returns policy and the original buyer was willing to take a loss to get the lamp out of her loft. This initial buyer had a copy of Hotel Lachapelle so I'm assuming she has very good taste.

The table is the ikea imitation Saarinen table. It looks good, but you can tell it's plastic. It flexes when I lean into it.

The chairs I bought today. They looked really old and were being sold at a ridiculously low price. I did some research after buying them: Ethan Allen from 1980/1981. So nowhere near as old as I'd expected, but still a solid buy. Just need a little oil and some elbow grease.

Here's the rub. The ikea table came with four other chairs.

That makes a total of 10 chairs in a studio apartment. It's not an addiction, I swear. I have plans to sell the ikea chairs as soon as I have a little downtime. I also have no real loyalty to the Ethan Allen chairs either. They're pieces I'm sitting on until I can find something I like better. (pun very much intended)

But there it is: a mostly finished dining room. Next step? Kitchen!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting a handle on things

I once wrote that I hated the handles in my kitchen and bathroom. Well, yesterday I decided to do something about it. Unusually close to where I live is an antique hardware store, full of goodies from all over the last century, plus some new stuff too. Ugly old handle in hand, I walked over there and walked back with three sample handles that I might use to replace the existing hardware. (Don't worry, I'm keeping the old ones around so come moving-out day I won't have a lot of explaining to do to the landlord)

Handle 1: Aluminium. Basic. Cheap, too.

Handle 2: A little more of a retro feel. Only downside is they might be one handle short of the number I need.

Handle 3: The largest of the bunch. Very modern, very substantial to hold. Also kind of expensive.

Here's all 3 in comparison.

I sort of already know my favorite of the three, but I'd really like to know what your thoughts are.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Or, I actually did a DIY project that turned out alright.
Some of you might have wondered what this image meant:

Well, it was part of an art project I'd been hoping to produce.

I came across a seller offering 4 identical Sealtest Ice Cream signs on ebay. Ebay's probably the best place to look for multiples like these, and they were reasonably priced, with an opening bid of about 10 bucks plus shipping. Not a shameless plug, but the seller I bought from was CJBeez, so probably a good seller to check out.

I got my canvas and spray glue from Blick. The canvas is their Studio line, lightweight and suitable for mounting light things like paper.

This is the spray glue I used. Re-positionable, so it's not a huge deal if you don't quite place the image right on the first try.

Here's how it looked as I was laying out the image. Really, the final art project looks basically exactly like it.
One thing I had to do was measure equidistant from each side so it was centered. And it was going to be a really messy number like not quite 1 3/16ths inches. Then I saw that it was also 3cm. Winner: metric system.

Here's the final piece

Cost breakdown:
4 old advertising signs: 17.23
Canvas and spray glue: 31.40
Total: 48.63

Which is a decent price to pay for a 24x36 piece of art. Plus, I now have a mostly-full can of spray glue I can use for other things.