A Baby Story

I’m just going to lay it out there: I really want to be somebody’s godmother. You know, that second parent type who is responsible for the child’s spiritual guidance. Forget the spiritual part I would be responsible for things like picking out the super amazing wine or whiskey for the 21st birthday, and starting a savings fund to allow my godchild to backpack through Europe. Pick me! I will introduce your kids to alcohol and send them off in the big bad world alone! Thus begins my campaign for godparent status.

Em Ab and her husband, Matt, are the latest of my friends to begin their family. Em Ab mentioned that she wanted my help with ideas for a nursery. Ah, something I can do that will not at some point endanger your child’s life. (Pick me!)

I thought we could start with some base pieces that would work for either gender and then build on with accessories the accents that make the room distinctly boy or girl. Em gave me a starting point by mentioning that she liked the blue in my dressing room.


1 Peeling Paint 2 Penguin Book Classics via Anthropologie 3 Jenny Lind  Crib 4 Rocker via  Lilah Vintage 5 Handpainted by Cookie 6 Pouf made from recycled t-shirts via Kitsdiezijn

I’m a fan of big people’s furniture in little people’s rooms, it’s more functional. So, for a boy, I ended up layering orange and green with metal and wood accents, keeping the metal out of reach when it poses a moral threat, of course.


1 Christian Jackson Minimalist Fairy Tale Print 2 The Steel Fork 3 Recyclable Chandelier via Seequin 4 Rickshaw Design 5 Morris Etc. 6 Latrouvaille


1 Leo Little Lion 2 Polyvore 3 86 for the Home 4 Funny Man prints via Banana Strudel 5 Vintage Green Valve Handles via ScrapYardGirl or 6 Violette Slippers 7 Pipe Bookshelf via Dirty Bils


1 Arty Factz 2 Johnny Vintage 3 Nacho Kitty 4 Happy Squash Toys 

Have you seen those Morris Etc. rugs before? They were my jumping off point in both rooms. I love the pink, red and blue rug in our little girl’s design below. So spunky!

 


1 The Print MakersRecyclable Chandelier via Seequin 3 Jewelry Kaleidescope 4 Blue Teddy 5 Morris Etc. 6 Heart n Soul Vintage 7 Luxe Habitat


1 Jecca Shop 2 Marcella’s Excess 3 Carla Inc 4 La Factoria Plastica 5 Violette’s Slippers 6 Nikki Myers


1 So so Vintage 2 Arty Factz 3 Scottishart 4 Uncle Goose

Em and Matt are, the last I heard, keeping their baby’s gender a secret! So how can they prepare a room suitable for a boy or girl? Orange, green and blue seems safe to me. I especially love green and blue together, its like a globe!

 

Most of the pieces in these mood boards are vintage, but I’ve thrown in some new pieces. I think it may be overambitious to try to be totally vintage and repurposed in a baby’s room. Certainly there are safety concerns with older baby cribs! But ideally, there’d be a healthy balance. Why not teach a child early on the importance of valuing the past and eschewing mass consumption? Remember, babies are people – they get that stuff.

 


1 Toybox via Mod Mom Furniture  2 The Print Makers 3 Soft Alphabet Book via Pilosale 4 5 Wheelbarrow chair Karl Sanford


1 Swing for the kid’s room! via Peg and Awl 2 The Stir 3 Adorable vintage child’s chair via Etsy 4 Cable Spool for a kid sized table 5 Spuce up an old frame with Hudson Chalkboard Paint

This concludes the longest post ever, but for all you expectant parents in the market for a godparent. Pick me! I’ll design your kids nursery AND get them drunk and encourage reckless behavior!

Have a great weekend!

Room Muse Greta Garbo

The 83rd annual Academy Awards are this Sunday evening. Though BC has what can only be described as a extremely violent repulsion to the “Red Carpet” shows, I thoroughly enjoy the spectacle, especially when the stars are able to transcend past the modern hoopla and channel the Hollywood of yesteryear.

Earlier this week I bought a new perfume and for some reason it makes me think of the pitch perfect style of Greta Garbo. Which is weird, since I really have no concept of Greta Garbo at all, other than a vague awareness of her androgynous style and very pretty face.

But this image of Ms. Garbo of absolutely nails the perception I had in mind: confidence, know-all, sublime cool. Though she was the definitive leading lady, whether silent or talking, Garbo seems to have a tenacity about her.

I get the feeling she’d have rather joined men for cigars after dinner than gossip with the ladies. And if by chance the gossip ever steered in her direction – I don’t imagine she’d take much notice. It’s said that Garbo once abruptly ended an interview with a reporter when he phrased his question “I wonder…”

“Why wonder?” she said before walking away.

1. victorian tufted chair arenskjold antiques 2. vintage abstract lunbar august morgan 3. flowers studio choo 4. marble italian bookshelves ad lib antiques 5. edward avedeisan painting vincent mulford 6. geometrics wallpaper secondhand rose 7. room screen benjamin wilson antiques 8. horse lamp old lighting spot 9. vintage quartz penholder white willow vintage 10. japanese vase nacho kitty 11. louis xvi dressing table negrel antiques 12. jet set vintage 13. vintage shoes style 14. my favorite vintage 15. tag sale finds 16. vilma’s closet

I don’t get the impression that this is a woman who would make a big deal about the Academy Awards. I mean, she was nominated three times, heralded for her performance in Camille, yet only won a special lifetime achievement award. Besides I don’t imagine Garbo wasn’t banking on public approval, though she had it in droves. I read a couple reports where people mentioned Garbo’s “sizzle”. She was likened to the kind of person who held you entranced when she walked in a room. She didn’t care about make-up and all that jazz, and she was breathtakingly beautiful regardless.

1. lou bass chandelier ad lib antiques 2. marble lamp old lighting spot 3. ombre glasses the creek house 4. cutty sark whiskey 5. decanter in my igloo 6. brass antelope bookend backgarage 7. cocktail party curio coasters jbtaylor the vintager 8. vintage key hole cover & keys jordan james 9. vintage turkish rug kelvan woven arts 10. ottoman benjamin wilson antiques 11. chaise nightwood 12. antique flask daffys landing 13. antique cigar box afterlife antiques 14. brass & goatskin bar cart aldo tura 15. italian female portrait bowl joe vintage

A dressing room for Garbo has some balance of beauty and grace coupled with strength and confidence – the perfect tension of femininity and masculinity. It would be a place where she’d reluctantly dress for an evening out, but not without a whiskey and ginger ale in hand. Or it’s maybe just a retreat where one could be “let alone.” …I have a sneaky suspicion I’ll be picking up a Greta Garbo biography sometime soon.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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May Russell

May Russell, mug shot from Sydney, Australia, 1922.

I imagine May Russell always had it rough. Perhaps she was an orphan before meeting her husband. Only to be abandoned again when he left for the WW1. But May was scrappy I bet. She did the one thing she knew how to do well – survive.

May entered the workforce, cut her hair short, and pretty soon found herself excelling in a man’s world. May would push her way through the ranks. No one would expect an impish girl of racketeering.

May would sit in her office watching as the police raid began. She’d pour herself a drink and wait, her face revealing absolutely nothing.

An office imagined* for May:

Security Boxes by FunRetro, Vintage Barware by Brooklyn Retro, Industrial Tray by Old Crow Farm, Brass Hand Paper Clip by High Street Market, Antique Swivel Chair by Daily Memorandum, Vintage Desk Calendar by High Street Market, Vintage Bell Lamp by Daily Memorandum, Tanker Desk by Past Present Future, Glass Decanter by Fernswood Pixie.

*Actually the whole story is imagined inspired by this Justice and Police Collection photo.

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Disfarmer 1940′s Baby

In 1940′s Arkansas, there was a photographer who went by the name Disfarmer. He was the son of a farmer and changed his name to show his discontent with the family business. Disfarmer’s portraits captured the lives and emotions of the people of rural America between 1939-1945. This baby portrait inspired today’s Room Muse.

 

He’s a cute little fella, isn’t he? I found pictures on Facebook where other Disfarmer subjects had actually tagged themselves! I wonder what this guy’s story is…

For him I created a kid friendly room in red and blue.

 

Rocker (Vintage Jane),  Blocks (The Antique Toy), Red Desk/Changer (ShabbyChicFairytale), Military Lantern (Hindsvik), Metal Crib (Chedwich Antiques), Upcycled Mirror (The Vintage Treehouse), Fire Truck Lithograph (Blasts from the Past), Red Bookshelf (CalloohCallay), Recycled Fabric Mobile (MRowe)

For the record, the mobile was BC’s idea.
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Room Muse: Aliena and Jack

On the plane ride to Salt Lake City last weekend, I finally finished The Pillars of the Earth. Ya’ll seriously, 900+ pages of pure excitement. I would actually try to find ways to spend more time on the subway so I could read another chapter.

At the center of this fictional work, set in 12th century England, are a couple named Jack and Aliena. Jack is considered a rather odd one: he grew up in the forest, raised by an alleged witch, but is incredibly smart and a talented stone carver. And he loves Aliena from the moment he meets her.

Aliena is the daughter of an Earl, a dark-haired beauty whose father is charged with treason, and Aliena spends the rest of her life trying to stay out of poverty and to restore the earldom to her brother.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but Jack and Aliena are epic characters. And for a novel about building cathedrals, there’s sufficient romance. Here’s a bed chamber mood board inspired by their story.

OK, first off, I’m terribly embarassed by my cobbled together board. But, until I’m able to purchase a photoshop program, this is as good as it gets!

As I was thinking about how these characters would manifest into a room design, I realized that even though the novel is set in another time, the characters are truly modern personalities. I imagined that their bedroom is in an old loft with cast iron windows on one wall. There’s a wall with peeling vintage wallpaper and an enormous stone fireplace, which is used as the headboard. A green leather armchair and an antique dresser frame the bed, which is outfitted with a vintage crochet bedspread. To top off the room is a mid-evil feeling wall sculpture, a mini-stone cathedral and a french gold chandelier. And at the root is an antique rug.

I suppose 12th century Aliena and Jack became like, goth, boho, yuppies… or something.

PS. If you don’t have the attention span for the novel – watch the miniseries. It’s almost as good.

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Room Muse: Dora and Lytton

Dora Carrington, from the archive at Kings College Cambridge of 'The Bloomsbury Group'.

She: a young British artist who graduated from the Slade School of Art in London, where she was irresistible to men with her cropped pageboy haircut. She was known as being troubled by her sexuality.

Lytton Strachey oil on canvas by Dora Carrington

He: a quirky writer and critic, known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. He was also openly homosexual.

She was in love with He. He loved her too, but he also liked her husband. They lived together for many years. He died of stomach cancer in 1932, she killed herself two months later.

I am writing of the artist, Dora Carrington and the writer, Lytton Strachey, of whom I just learned about through the fabulous movie, Carrington. I rather hate drawing my Room Muse inspiration from movies, because it lends an already established palette to my dreamed up designs. But these two were just too fascinating.

This is Ham Spray, the house Lytton purchased in the name of Nora’s husband, where Dora and Lytton lived together (with their significant others), and where Dora’s ashes are buried.

And this the living room I imagine for Dora and Lytton. Colorful landscape paintings by members of the Bloomsbury Group. Loaded bookshelves. A desk, an armchair, a footrest, an urn. Faded painted walls and bright florals. Beauty and complexity. Love and tragedy. Lytton and Dora.

On his deathbed Lytton Strachey is rumored to have said “I always wanted to marry Carrington, but never did.” Here, I imagine they are together.

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Room Muse: Evelyn

It’s always interesting… the things that stick with you. I was reading a lovely little book about Maud Montgomery‘s inspiration for Anne of Green Gables, and somehow I became totally enthralled with Evelyn Nesbit, a young turn-of-the-century ingenue whose picture inspired the image of Anne, and whose career ended tragically after the murder of her lover, architect Stanford White. I mentioned Evelyn to Brie, who made her the Icon of the Week.

Along with many before me, I count Evelyn as a muse, my Room Muse.

The short of the Evelyn and Stanford story is this: young model is introduced to acclaimed architect, he invites her to his apartment where the two share dinner and champagne before he gives her a tour of his place, ending in the Mirror Room. The Mirror Room held a green velvet couch and the walls and ceilings were covered with mirrors. It was right next to the room with a red velvet swing. Evelyn stated that she “entered the room a virgin but did not come out as one.” Years later, her husband shot Stanford White three times at close range at the theatre. Still Evelyn noted Stan as “the only man she’d ever loved.”

I imagine Evelyn in her dressing room. Throwing open the doors of her antique wardrobe  searching for a dress as beautiful as she. She would empty the contents of her boudoir over her settee and become distracted by her vanity mirror. On a side table, Evelyn would have a collection of milk glass, as pure as she  and a set of pewter goblets, worthy of a princess. Before leaving for the evening, she might stand in front of her mirror,  lit with theatre lighting from behind. She’d stare into her own eyes, her own soul, aware that she might return a different person.

Images: Antique wardrobe via Tara Shaw/First Dibs, vanity mirror via Elle W/First Dibs, milk glass via Racheal Herbert, pewter goblets via FQ Merchantile, mirror via Pat Monroe/First Dibs, theatre light via Reclaimed Enjoyment.

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Room Muse: Anne (with an “e”)

My favorite literary character of all time is definitely that “Anne girl” from Lucille Maud Montgomery‘s series “Anne of Green Gables.” I’m reading a novel about Maud and how she came to write the Anne series. So I thought it appropriate to create a room, created with vintage and salvaged pieces, inspired by Anne.

Note, if you’ve seen the Canadian TV mini-series of the book, you have a vision of what Anne’s room looks like. But the room I’m conjuring up isn’t similar to that of a poor orphan girl. It’s the room Anne would dream of. A room in a house located by multiple “lakes of shining waters” in which she and her “bosom friends” would share their most confidential secrets.

Anne’s dramatic bed would hold a fluffy mattress and be dripping with silk sheets. In front of it would be a late 1800′s ottoman, suitable for a queen, to set upon a tray of evening cordials or to rest weary feet. Across from the bed would be a overstuffed chair, perfect for lounging and writing. To the side of the chair would be a small, ladylike round table.

The side table would hold a study lamp made of a marble bust, as well as a vintage book with a new book cover. Perched on one side would be a cake stand used as a candy dish, for Anne’s late night treats. A beautiful, old, gilded mirror would be hung on one wall.

Oh Anne. I absolutely adore your romantic notions, your adventures, your spunk, your quick temper and your innocence. I think we are kindred spirits.

UPDATE: I was thinking about this on the train this morning. Though Anne yearned for adventure, a truth of the novel was that Anne loved her Green Gables, and in the end she wanted to be no place else. So maybe this room for Anne would be beyond the Haunted Forest,  just across Lover’s Lane, upstairs in a room at Green Gables.

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ROOM MUSE humanitarian audrey

Like any other girl with an appreciation for little black dresses, cocktails, and diamonds, I’ve always been a fan of the “Holly Golightly” Audrey Hepburn. Likewise, the Audrey of Roman Holiday with her short cut riding a Vespa around Rome. And let us not forget the Audrey of Sabrina; the ultimate makeover story with a romantic ending. But what about the Audrey Hepburn with a passion for humanitarian work? The Audrey who worked with UNICEF for over 30 years. The Audrey who said “I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children…” Aside from her beauty, this was a woman of great heart and substance. Today humanitarian Audrey is my ROOM MUSE.

Audrey spent the later years of her life living in Switzerland. But today I’m imagining a kitchen space for Audrey is some off the beaten path village in Africa. Clay walls, salvaged floor tiles. Simple yet warm.

Imagine a galley kitchen space. On one wall there is a salvaged wood door (Eron Johnson Antiques). Beside it is a wall of windows surrounded by shelves and cabinets salvaged from an old pharmacy (Salvoweb.com). A deep sink is inlaid in a rustic chest of drawers. Across the corridor, which is filled with a large welcoming reclaimed industrial table (Artifact Design and Salvage), is a wall of salvaged wood and lead pipe shelves (Hindsvik). But my favorite part would be the golden giraffe (Apartment Pizzazz) situated in the corner of the room, just for fun.

Audrey’s favorite food was spaghtti, so an Italian cookbook (Open Books/CMJDesignsLLC) would be set on an small easel on the counters. Under some of the windows would sit Audrey’s herb garden in an old wooden tool tray (The Barn of Middleburg). Re-purposed tops of limestone pillars (Eron Johnson Antiques) would sit by the oven ready to receive hot plates. Water would fall from a spunky set of pipes (Wary Meyers) and an antique bowl would always be filled with seasonal fruits.

Each morning, Audrey would sit down to her coffee (Coffee Set from AGoodVintage) with hot milk at a beautiful old table. Maybe some days she would grab a cookie from one of the stands made of brass candlesticks and antique china (FunkieFinds). Audrey would perch on a tree stump and the room would be softly lit with wine bottle lights dangling over the table. Audrey would probably eat most of her meals in the kitchen and perhaps invite her local friends to join her. On special occasions they might light the antique candelabra (Chase Vintage) and linger over dinner for hours.

Like Audrey, I imagine this room would be quiet, comfortable, and full of grace and charm.

ROOM MUSE 1970′s Babs and Kris

I have a new game and it’s called Room Muse. The idea is that I take a picture, person, historical moment… (whatever vintage something I want) and create a room design (using salvaged and repurposed products, of course.)

Take this picture of Kris and Babs. I hadn’t seen A Star Is Born when I found this. Nor I seen the whole movie when I came across this clip of Evergreen. I would advise that you click play, then keep reading as it plays.

Watching this clip, I could totally imagine the room for this couple. It would be a sunporch, maybe on a farm, a dot in a countryside someplace totally unexpected. This porch would have a rickety old ceiling fan turning the hot air around a daybed.

But this would be no ordinary daybed; instead a swinging carriage backed pallet daybed, covered with vibrant orange, deep purple and aubergine patterned fabrics. Probably they’d spend hours laying around, listening to old albums and reading aloud to one another.

Aside from the daybed and two punchy rattan stools (Modish Vintage), the only other chairs in the room would swinging chairs likes the black ones (1st Dibs) above, which would be filled with a hefty pillow or two. All the seats are soaring – just like their love… oh, and her voice.

There would be natural elements like a  salvaged wood coffee table (J.Rusten Furniture) and driftwood table lamp (TestofTime). And a spot of decadence provided by an antique bone inlay Indian side table (Mogul Interior) and a stunning salvaged wood shield shaped mirror (DwellwithDifference). All grounded on an antique kilim rug (Nazmiyal Antique Rugs).

On either side of the weathered, creaking door which leads back into the old farmhouse, would sit these two shutter doors repurposed as shelves (Repop NY), and filled with bits of the couple’s lives… their record player (AllUnique), a vintage Charades game (TestofTime) for Sunday night gatherings, collections of vintage vases (TheBarnofMiddleburg) and decanters (MondayPie), an old elephant foot umbrella stand (TopsyDesigns) brought back from an adventure abroad, and maybe an old copy of their favorite movies and other odds and ends.

So when I started actually watching A Star Is Born, I thought I was totally off. No, no, no they aren’t farmhouse, they’re glitzy mansion. Drugs, rock ‘n roll, and high-waisted fire red pants with suspenders.

After a short while though, John Norman and Esther got married and moved into their desert ranch house.

You can't tell, but she's wearing this amazingly fabulous get up; a hoop skirt and a shirt that first buttons about halfway down her belly.

It would seem my instincts may have been not too far off  after all. Kris and Babs are just a little more ranch than farm. But then, I’m only halfway through the movie!

(Update: Finished the movie. I may or may not have dissolved into a puddle of tears on the floor.)

I have some ideas for inspiration for new Room Muse designs, but I’d love to hear from you… any requests?

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