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Remember in the song Landslide when Stevie Nicks sang to her wall art, “I’ve been afraid of changing because I’ve built my room around you”? Sometimes it’s like an artist is singing right to you. Stevie’s words* were on my mind as I struggled with replacing my trusty Brooklyn Bridge print with a new mirror.

You may recall the hot spot of neighborhood yard sale activity in which I scored a one buck mirror and a two buck Eames chair. You saw the chair back in this post. Here’s the mirror:

I love the foxing (that’s the cloudy, streaky, spotty look that old mirrors get) and the shape. But it took some convincing for me to hang it in that spot. One of the first decisions I had made when we moved in was where my Brooklyn Bridge print would go. It’s been on the walls of everywhere I’ve lived in my adult life. While it has sentimental value, and inspired the paint scheme for the living room, there were several things working against it. It felt a little mid-’90s with the brown and olive. While it was comforting in it’s constancy, I was truthfully getting a little tired of it following me everywhere, like the eyes of one of those optical Jesus statues. Worst of all, the glass was super reflective, so putting it anywhere near a window rendered it nearly the same as a mirror. See?

Now, compare! Here’s the same scene with the mirror:

It’s like a breath of fresh air. A breath of fresh air that lets you see what’s going on in the room behind you.

What do you think? Got any stories of decor tooth-pulling that end with a smile?

*OK, Stevie Nicks may have been singing to some musician man, not her wall art. I am also being told she said “life,” not “room.”

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| Posted in Talky Talk

Small Change: Frame Makeover for Paintings

A search for decorating makeovers often yields large-scale, wall-gutting, bring-in-the-pros revamps. It’s easy to forget the simple power of a small change.

There is a pair of paint by number paintings that I’ve passed in a local antique store a few times over the past year. They caught my eye because of a cherry blossom tree in one of the paintings (the cherry blossoms bloomed in the park on our wedding day–literally the morning of our wedding!), but I kept taking a pass on buying them. Between the swans and the dark frames, they were giving off a dowdy elderly home vibe I just couldn’t shake.

Then I developed a paint by number near-obsession. I remembered these paintings, and decided to trek over to the shop and see if they were still there. They were.

Note the contradiction of glare AND dullness from the same source!

On second (actually fifth) glance, it became clear that the paintings themselves were so much better than the presentation they’d been given. The wood frames sucked. And whoever framed these guys had put glass over them. Glass totally kills the message that these are “real” paintings. Furthermore, having glass so close to the paint could ruin the finish. Someone spent a fair amount of time fishing for all the numbers, and then put the thing at risk of being ruined. Christ, people! This is why we can’t have nice things.

The first thing I did was liberate these beauties from their glass cages. Look, texture! Now these paintings can breathe!


Now the frames needed help. The insert left in the frame tell us these are the finest quality… certificate frames. OK. First, the full-strength glass goes in the basement for a later use. (Later use likely = garbage can filler when we move. But it might come in handy… it is full strength!)

Time to paint.

Since I wanted this makeover to be cheap and easy, I used paint we already had in the house. I was torn between two satin-finish colors: a pale pink wall paint, and a stone grey spray paint. Hey, I’m modernizing… why not one of each color, the same way a dude in the park playing hacky sack would wear his Converse high tops? Just so it’s not too literal and matchy, I used the grey frame on the painting with more pink and vice versa. Ta da!


Now these babies have a soft sheen–not glare–in the sunlight, and the frames are a cheerful accent to the fun paintings instead of a coffin in frame form.

Tell me all about your best quick changes and mini-makeovers in the comments!

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| Posted in Before & After, Projects

A Winner is Me!

Saturday was a good day. It was a very good day. Wait for it… the Ice Cube reference is going to be relevant.

Our neighborhood had it’s annual community yard sale, and this was the first year The Husband and I were able to participate. By participate, I mean shop for woefully under-priced treasures offered by our uninformed neighbors.

The pickings were slim for several blocks. Right as we were about to give up, we drove to the outer edges of the neighborhood and I spied a big round mirror and a fiberglass shell chair. I was on the lawn before the ignition had stopped all the way. I peered under the shell chair, and saw this:


Holy Smokes! A vintage, date-stamped Herman Miller with the Eames mark and everything. It even had the original paper inspection tag stuck on and date stamped. The price–brace yourself, people–$2. I played it cool as we walked off with the chair and the giant, awesome vintage mirror for a grand total of $3. FOOLS!

Meanwhile! I had been holding my breath on the chance of winning an awesome “Ice Cube Celebrates the Eames” print from Lizzie over at The Hip Soiree. We walked in the door with the bounty we practically stole from those rubes, and I found an email from Lizzie that I had WON! Two moments of Eames kismet in one day? Let me catch my breath.

Here, Ice cube sitting in an Eames chair, sitting in an Eames chair. (Isn’t that what the kids call “meta”?):

Lizzie did not oversell this thing, this is some high quality paper. It’s poster size, but really is art print quality. Thanks again, Lizzie!

I’ll be back soon to show off more of our yard sale finds.

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| Posted in Talky Talk

Now I’m gonna pass the mic to Yauch…

When everyone was all in a tizzy over Whitney’s death recently, my feeling was, “The woman inspired me to buy a crimping iron in the ’80s… but, you know, crack IS whack.”

MCA on the other hand… Damn.

This may be the only time I get to say I am joining Biz Markie in anything, so:
I am joining Biz Markie in saying that my heart is heavy today.

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| Posted in Talky Talk

Mexico Elements: Graphic Design

The Puerto Morelos area is full of beauty. I don’t just mean the turquoise waters and palm trees, although those are certainly two of my favorite parts. The lovely coastal architecture–some of it remarkably simple, some of it fantastical–has us dreaming of living in one of the homes there. Even the (very utilitarian) weathered fishing boats are lent a design-y vibe by the hand painted sides.

Today’s photos show the graphic, bold look that you’ll see on everything from boats to beer cans in Porto Morelos.



Pacifico is not the best tasting beer ever, but the bold packaging wins me over every time.



Despite my intense fear of underwater sea creepers, these painted boats might be cool enough to convince me to take a ride to the middle of the ocean.



Many of the restaurants here are hand-painted like the boats. Dos bebidas, por favor.



200 meters under the sea? No thank you, sir! I’ll stay and take photos of your colorful sign instead.



The cocktail illustrations on this menu are so pretty.


Did you know that the classic Beetle body style was still in production in Mexico until just a few years ago? VW beauties are everywhere, but this one takes the design cake for it’s beachy two-tone paint scheme and mod roof rack.


Even the in-town street signs are thoughtfully designed compared to the standard green and reflective-white high way signs everywhere else… albeit thoughtfully designed by Andrea Zuckerman and the 90210 yearbook team, if the spiral motif and zig-zag border could be used as the design equivalent of carbon-dating.

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| Posted in Inspiration