kriselkeeper: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Living Room Sconce Fix

I'm having one of those moments when I'm antsy about the things that have not been fixed or the projects I haven't started around the house.  Looking through this blog helps me feel better when I can't tackle something right away.  I always realize we've come farther than I thought...considering our circumstances. 

I discovered there were a few projects I finished but never posted.  For the time being writing about what I have finished will make me feel better about all the things I haven't.  

The living room had these uglier than ugly sconces since the day we moved in.  For some reason Dave and I decided it was something we could leave for later.  But every month those suckers bugged me more and more.  The other factor is that we are planning on tearing down the wall where those sconces live.  It would be pointless to spend money on beautiful lighting fixtures when they would only be temporary. 

Image from The Brick House
I was inspired by a post both on The Brick House and on Remodelista.  They had a cost effective, easy, DIY solution to sconces.  I thought this was the perfect solution.  Problem was that neither the simple light fixture or the bulb were found at the usual Home Depot or Lowes.  I had to adventure out to industrial lighting supply stores to find what I needed. I have to admit I love these kind of adventures and I love taking our 3 year old daughter with me.  It's of course harder with her but I love that she learns so much from these "non typical" stores.  

The bulbs cast a nice soft light.  It's perfect for this room. 
On the flip side, when these guy guys see a mom, with a toddler, pull up in a Volvo they think I must be lost.  Some are dismissive and rude. Others are impressed by my efforts and thankfully most are quite helpful and teach me the lingo and the lay of the land in these HUGE warehouses.  I also found a killer, Mid Century out door sconce for $5 at one of the places.  Man! What a score.  Even Dave was impressed.  I still haven't figured out where to put it.  

My project turned out great.  Each sconce was less than $5 so for $10 I fixed the ugliest problem (except for the couch) in our living room!  Funny thing: someone who use to come by always had a passive and rude comment about the ugly sconces. Then they didn't even notice once they were changed out!  Lovely huh?

Here is the semi-before picture. I remembered to take a picture when I was half way through changing the fixtures. 

Here you can see the door behind the wall we plan to tear down. In there are another two rooms. I'd like to open up the entire space. It would allow us to have the current living room for entertaining, the room on the other side of the wall would be the tv room and the room past it would be the play/craft room.  And, true to the home's original design we would get our cross ventilation back with windows on both the front and back of the house. 

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dwell 2011 Finds

Every year we go to Dwell I come back loaded up with brochures. I stash them on my desk until the next year or until the pile is so high I just throw EVERYTHING out. This year I had an epiphany! I have a home design blog! So instead of keeping all this stuff physically on file, in a mess in the house, I can file it here virtually for me to easily find and for you to see.

So, these were the vendors I found most interesting this year and pertained to future project on our house. It's also vendors I found in our price range, or relatively close. There were many amazing products but we don't have a million dollar house over looking the beach and a comparable budget...someday though, someday.

They're based in Phoenix, Az and makers of pretty cool outdoor fire pits.

Modern planters made out of natural products, not plastic. Manufactured in Switzerland.

Pure natural paints, plasters and wood finishes. 100% VOC free made with fully disclosed natural ingredients.

They make "pebble seats" for indoor and outdoor use. They are super cool and I'd love to have a set in our front yard. Based in Venice Beach.


LED light fixtures. Beautiful and functional light fixtures. They have a sconce i loved and could possibly work in our bedroom. Based out of Laguna Beach.

Bright Green:
An entire line of non-toxic, biodegradable phosphate and petroleum free cleaning and household products. I find it interesting they are carried by Vons, Safeway, Tom Thumb but not Whole Foods or Target. And it states what they are free of but not what they're made of. Not a good sign to me but I do want to check them out, although I'm rarely in the stores they're carried in.

A couple retail stores I liked:

Located on Beverly Blvd in LA and on Park Place in El Segundo they have outdoor furniture, bathroom vanities, Eco-fireplaces, home decor and tile. We almost bought a hanging egg chair right off their display. Then we decided we needed to get through our essential purchases first...although the need for that chair is starting to feel essential now. The owner was really kind which is always a bonus.

Located in North Hollywood. I remember shopping here when I was in the film industry. We did lots of rentals from them. What drew me in to their area was a children's chair they had which was beautiful and I thought really reasonably priced: $200. Then I saw their beds, tables, etc. Always beautiful things there.

Located in West Hollywood. Man! I love their furniture. I saw a bed, bookcases and lamps I loved. All pricey but not crazy expensive either so a few key pieces would be do-able.

Dwell felt a lot smaller than it had in previous years. I hate to say this, but except for the first year, Ive always been rather disappointed with the show. I give any event leeway for the first year.  I'd like to see the big standard vendors like DWR, Room & Board, CB2. But more important, I want to see small independent manufacturers and designers. In fact the whole showroom should be divided by these two categories: large vs small mass produce.

Ive always found the show to be hit or miss with what we're looking for. We went with friends who needed outdoor shade screens and there was not one vendor in that category. We were looking for modern kids bunk beds and we found not one vendor either. So in a way it felt like a wasted trip...except for the above finds but they are all for future projects.

This show should be THE place to see, compare and purchase all your modern furniture, materials, services etc. Instead it feels like being in Home Depot where your left with only a few selections. Except it's not by ugly default but by financial default. Meaning, in Home Depot I can skim through the isles and "say no, no, no, yes" because so many options are ugly. But at Dwell it's "no, no, no, yes" because so many options are ridiculously expensive. 

You'd think by this day and age everyone knows there is something for everyone at every price point. It's not how much you've spent on your home that makes it beautiful it's whether or not you have taste and style.  And that is something money can't buy. Well, I guess it can buy you a designer if you've got none.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Art for P

I've made a few little changes to P's room but I've struggled to photograph them properly. No matter what time of day, or lens I use it continues to look blah.  Thank God I don't make a living as an architectural photographer.  

P is phasing out of being a baby/toddler and into being a little girl. I felt the art work in her room should reflect this.  The entry to P's room use to look like this 
and now it looks like the picture at the top.  I got her the print from here. It's in French and says "Si tu savais combien je t'aime, tu t'√©vanouirais". Translation: "if you knew how much I love you, you'd faint". I couldn't express my love for her any better!

I love that the print has a "little girl" feel with the pink balloon and yet I can see this piece transitioning into her decor as a teen.  Part of growing up is having a print properly framed as oppose to just hanging up a piece of paper so I got it properly framed.  Now, I'm wishing I would have gotten the more expensive non-glare glass. Then again if the glass breaks with a flying doll, car or ball I won't have a heart attack because it wasn't so expensive.  Yeah! Wise choice for me.

I also changed her magnet strip which use to hold her fun magnetic dolls for a set of hooks. The girl's not got bags and backpacks and all sorts of items to hang up. If we had more disposable income I would have chosen this set from Anthropology, but they are $20 a piece.

I know in a few years this room will go through another change and these might be too childish.  So I opted for a strip with several hooks from Lowes for $10. Not as cool but truthfully it still looks good, goes with the vibe, does the job and I feel I made the wiser choice.  Of course as I see these hooks again I'm still tempted to get them for another area of her room....and then again I'm proud of myself for making wiser financial choices these days.   

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bedroom Garden

Back in April my goal was to move the Kaffir Lilies from the entrance in the front yard to the bedroom garden where the environment is more pleasing to them.  Unlike most projects I was able to cross this one off my list within reasonable time (2 months).  When I did the big planting in the frontyard I moved the Kaffirs to make room for drought tolerant plants.

The Kaffirs went to the bedroom garden where it's bright but shaded most of the day.   This spot  is now getting watered twice as much as any other part on our property.  While we were in Florida I realized I actually missed the lush tropical landscape.  It's probably why I've always had a vision for the view from our bedroom to be green and in some ways tropical.  

The bedroom garden that once looked like this over a year ago:

Now looks like this:

From inside it looks amazing, specially in the morning.  It also smells amazing. The ground cover is a plant that smells like wine barrels.  I like to open up all the windows and air out our bedroom after everyone is and at 'em. That wine barrel smell is so wonderful as it floats in and cleans out the "sleepy air". 

I have no idea what the big leafy plant is.  I got it for free off of Craig's list, along with the ferns and the other lily.  I still want a fountain and some stepping stones to make this area perfect. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Race Track

It's been forever since I had the opportunity to write.  We went to Florida for two weeks. A week after returning we went camping in Big Bear.  Five days before heading into the "wilderness" P caught a cold and over the weekend all three of us got it bad.  The decent from 7,000 feet with colds and an ear ache (for P) was not pleasant.  Luckily, I remembered a friend once told me that drops of Vodka in an ear alleviates and often cures ear aches.  We stopped at a liquor store on the way out, gave P a few drops and she was out for four hours.  She woke up when we got home completely cured of everything but Dave and I were exhausted.  It has taken us weeks to get our energy level back to normal.  

I have managed to finish a few projects here and there but my attention has mostly been on the new front garden.  The space has been amazing!  Big chunks of it are shaded in the late afternoon which makes it lovely.  The big surprise has been how much P loves the "race track", her name for the DG path.  She loves to run around it pretending to be a race car. 

Today she used the path to ride her balance bike.  We bought her this bike for Christmas soon after her 2nd birthday.  It hasn't been until now, at 3.5 that she is finally using it daily.  She's determined to get her pedals on.  Because the front yard slopes down and away from the front door the DG path makes a great place for her to coast and get her balance.  She keeps going around and around trying to coast longer and have more control every time.  

Being outside in the garden has given us the opportunity to meet new neighbors and chat with old ones.  It's also given us the chance to meet new creatures: grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, worms, rolly pollies, butterflies and lady bugs. Not to mention the neighborhood cats and the humming birds who for some reason seem to think my ear is a flower.  On a few occasions they have hovered right at my ear; a lovely yet eerie sensation.  

Of all the plants I planted I lost about a quarter of them.  All the Jack Sprat I transplanted have died.  The Kangaroo Paw died.  Of course the week after everything went in, I took off for Florida and the temperatures reached the 100's. I had the drip irrigation system in and set to go on three times a week but it wasn't enough.  As much as I'm dying to go buy more plants I think the prudent thing to do is wait until the fall.  At least it will give the plants some winning odds of surviving.  Even if I'm buying drought tolerant plants they need to establish before they can endure the high heat. 

I am thrilled we FINALLY got the front yard done!  Had I known how much P was going to use it and enjoy it I would have done it at least a year earlier.  It's the perfect space for her to play, for me to interact with her and with the garden.  It literally is heaven for me right now....well, when it's shaded and it's not 100 degrees outside!

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