Wednesday, March 25, 2009

International Vintage Poster Fair This Weekend!

Left: vintage PKZ poster we have in our dining room, circa 1929. PKZ is a Swiss department store dating back to the late 1800's. (And in looking at their website, I see that they are the clothing sponser for the "Mister Schweiz [Schweiz = Switzerland]" competition. How funny is that?)

Chicago people: listen up! There is a super-cool vintage poster fair going on this weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center at 77 W. Randolph. I am so sad we are not going to be able to make it!

Vintage posters are a wonderful art source because they are pieces which were intended to be ephemeral sales tools which ads to their charm. They can impart color, history and personality.
Of course, I imagine most of the posters at the fair will be at the high end of the price range for vintage posters, but you can find reprints at tons of online dealers and local framing shops for very reasonable prices.

Posters are also a great way to get a very large piece of art economically. We have one that is probably about 36"W x 60"H in our dining room that my family purchased through Swann Gallery in NY, a fun place to visit when they're having a pre-sale exhibition.

My one piece of advice is to seek out the less-often reprinted posters and stay away from the ones you see at every framing shop and street fair. Who needs to see another Taittinger ad, really?

These two: incredibly striking, but that is why I consider them a "don't" - they are so popular that now they're totally cliche'd!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping Cool (But Not Frozen)

A Q&A in the NY Times today answered a pressing issue we've had to deal with countless times: how do you keep your produce from freezing in the refrigerator? Once lettuce and other fruits and veggies freeze, there's no way to undo the damage, which can be really annoying. Finally, here are some clear answers to which areas of the fridge are coldest, and what tips really work for maintaining the integrity of your produce.

Some highlights:

  • If you must use a shelf instead of the crisper drawer, avoid the rear, bottom, and left side of the refrigerator if you have a side-by-side (I added this last one from personal experience), as many fridges pipe in cold air from the freezer to cool and this typically comes in at the top rear of the fridge compartment.

  • Optimal fridge temperature is 36-38 degrees, which you can monitor with a specialty thermometer. Best time to check is first thing in the morning or after any long period of not being opened.

  • This has less to do with temperature, but oxygen is also a major factor in deterioration of produce quality, so wrapping tightly in plastic can help maintain its freshness. Guess there really is something to those Debbie Meyer Greenbags you see on the infomercials!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Portfolio Update - Again!

Uploaded a few more portfolio pics to my website. Today is so gorgeous, I had to take advantage of this light!

A Tangled Web

I have posted before about the jumble of wires behind our entertainment center in the living room. This weekend we attacked that as well as the wires from two other TV's in order to bring some semblance of organization to these areas. I say "semblance" because it's a "what you can't see won't hurt you" kind of thing - we used some creativity in hiding some jumbles we just couldn't completely tame. But nobody really has to know that.

Imagine my pleasure in coming across this playful take on cable/wire management in the NY Times today.
Here is some info about the artist from the NY Times:
About the Artist
Christoph Niemann's illustrations have appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration. His work has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Art Directors Club and American Illustration. He is the author of two children's books, "The Pet Dragon," which teaches Chinese characters to young readers, and "The Police Cloud." After 11 years in New York, he moved to Berlin with his wife, Lisa, and their sons, Arthur, Gustav and Fritz. His Web site is

Monday, March 16, 2009

Some New Portfolio Pics

I worked on some new portfolio images recently and have posted them to my website (you can see larger images there if you go to the gallery page and keep clicking on each image until it pulls up in its own window at a larger size.)

Some of you may recognize this residence!

The Story Behind the Innaugural Aretha Hat

Okay, it's not home decor-related, but I think this story deserves a shout. It's about the hat designer behind the audaciously gorgeous had Aretha Franklin wore to the Innauguration, which is going to be going into the Smithsonian. It turns out it was designed by a Detroit-based, second-generation milliner (hatmaker) who followed a twisted educational path involving biochemistry and fine arts. Needing to pay off his accumulated educational debt, he turned to his parents' business for steady income and never left. He has a real gift for construction, material, and design.

Check out the article here, and make sure to look at the slide show too!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just for Fun: Creepy Animal Head Gallery.


Z Gallerie White Resin Deer Head

DON'T: T-Rex Head

Okay, had to share this. With the popularity of imitation mounted animal heads these days, it feels like I see white resin mounted antlers or various animal heads in every other catalog I pick up. I am thinking it might be cool to use some variation on this above our bed, as we don't have a huge amount of height but we need something to decorate that wall.

A quick search led me to this gallery. If you are willing to overlook the annoying music, you will be rewarded with what must certainly be the widest variety of "animals" gathered in one place online, ranging from baby T-Rex to wild boar. And don't worry, none of them are real. I would never support that.

LET ME BE CLEAR: I do not advocate the use of a faux dinosaur head in your home decor. I just think it is funny that there is a market for all of the heads shown on the Interior Gallery website. The only place I could conceive of most of these making sense is in a theme restaurant, store, or amusement park.

Refined Rustic - Cool New Chicago Find

Refined Rustic is a cool boutique/gallery/studio located at 3924 N. Milwaulkee. They carry vintage and new items that all share a rustic vibe but would blend nicely into more upscale interiors too. Their furniture and accessories are the perfect pieces to add character to blah spaces that need a little oomph.

The pieces below are all reproduction, which is good and bad. While you won't have a one-of-a-kind piece, you will have something handmade and solidly built, and scaled to work with today's interiors and media. And unlike with antiques, you don't have the pressure of never knowing where you can find it again if someone else buys it first - you can take your time making a decision. For me, the hardest decision with a lot of these pieces is where to start since I like so many of them.

I show mainly case goods below, but they do have a wide selection of accessories (like the wash bucket at the bottom of this post), lighting, and even upholstery too. I was just most taken by the lines of the case pieces and tables. I could do a whole separate post on their lighting, actually. It's industrial-inspired but not too cold or impractical, and it's super-chic.

Open Front Bookcase

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lighten Up!

I discovered a wonderful lamp resource called Barbara Cosgrove Lamps. They have such a wide range of styles, mainly table lamps with a few standing lamps and sconces thrown in. There's not a single "what were they thinking?" lamp in the bunch, which is unusual when I look at lamp collections. Seriously, I am picky when it comes to lamps.

Here is a sampling of my faves from the collection. This group has some of the more of the unique designs they offer, so I wouldn't call it representative, but rather just a peek to get you interested enough to go visit the site and find more.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Andersonville Finds and Adorable Animals

I can't believe this whole week went by so quickly! I have been out enjoying the warm weather, taking long walks and exploring. Today I went to Andersonville, prompted by an article in Chicago Home and Garden, and had some success with antique shopping at Scout and
The Landmark Shops - Andersonville (no website.)

Bedroom Stools

I picked up a pair of stools on approval from Scout. They have been repurposed as stools but in reality, they are marble top side tables that some prior owner made shearling-covered pillow tops for. I plan to use them at the foot of our bed in lieu of a bench. I was worried because the shearling has kind of a yellowish cast rather than being pure white, but once I got them into the room, I realized it was totally fine. It was so nice of them to let me take them on approval (i.e., without paying yet) to see if they worked. I think that got them a sale, pending husband approval.

Powder Room Cabinet

The antiques part of the Landmark Shop is totally hidden in the basement of a gift-y store in the middle of the block somewhere between Foster and Farragut if I remember correctly. Intrigued by the "antiques in basement" sign posted on the door, I checked it out. It isn't big, but I scored a perfect little cabinet for our powder room and a dresser for our bedroom that I plan to put our TV on. The cabinet for the powder room had all the functionality we wanted - it is rustic, has a closed cabinet to hide t.p. and other sundries, and fits perfectly in the space even with the existing towel bar above. We have to go back tomorrow to pick up the dresser because there was nobody to help me carry it.

I also got this month's issue of Met Home today. There is only one resource I really wanted to check out online (I miss Domino, which used to be full of ideas!), but it has adorable stuff. It's

The first area I noticed was their "Gifts under $30" area. They have an awesome variety of animal toys that I find impossible to resist. I don't buy stuff like this because if I allowed myself to, my house would soon resemble a zoo. But I do like to window shop and buy for others when appropriate.

I thought maybe my nephew would enjoy this felt stingray.

And I think these penguins are not ideal for kids, but I love them. And you can feel good about buying them, because they are handmade (duh) by a knitting collective in Kenya.

Monday, March 2, 2009

House Eclectic - So Versatile!

House Eclectic is one line carried by Burke Decor that really stood out to me (in addition to the platters I previously posted about.)

House Eclectic produces Asian-inspired and other contemporary furniture in bold, pop-y lacquer colors. They have a clean look with some traditional detailing that can blend into a variety of decor styles.

I could see us getting a pair of these "Xia Li" bookcase cabinets for the living room.

I wish we had room for this "Alice" game table - it could go anywhere from a kitchen to a playroom or family room.

This little "Curvee" etagere comes like this or with one additional tier - perfect for a nightstand or powder room.

This Rococco console has an interesting take on the cabriole leg - I could see it in an entry, living room or dining room.

Platters Aplenty

Baby's Breath Platter ($115)

I came across this really cool online decor store last week - can't remember how - but it has beautiful stuff. It's called Burke Decor.

Then I also saw it mentioned on one of the Real Simple blogs this week. Serendipity!
The site has a lot of things I could totally imagine buying - a mix of contemporary/updated furnishings with elegant accessories. They carry a number of different lines.

One of my favorite sections of the site is their "Tabletop" page with platters etc. They have some beautiful platters by Eloquent Ink in various shapes and sizes (square and rectangular in addition to the round ones I show here.)
I recognize the one shown above as a wedding gift we got that we had not registered for but we really love. It is very unique, and large at a 17" diameter. It turns out there are several complimentary motifs that are equally pretty. Look!

Crab! And it even looks like a blue crab, the best kind! ($110)
Carp ($110)