meet catherine nolin: our etsy artist of the month

As part of our newly freshened up Shelterrific design, we are going to be featuring an artist a month on the site and in our header. This month’s artist is Massachusetts-based Catherine Nolin, whose work we fell in love with via her Etsy shop. With ornately decorated rooms, wallpapers, patterns, and fancily-dressed ladies, they conjure up fantasies of tea parties in grand estates. Our favorite, however is Tree of Life, which you see on our header, with its exotic birds and flowers.

We asked Catherine to tell us a little about her work, and her where her sense of decorating flair comes from.

Your work features a lot of elaborately decorated rooms. What inspires them?
When my parents did a big living room makeover it made a big impression on me as a 8 year old. I remember being involved in the process looking at swatches of fabric, carpets, and paint colors. When it all came together it was quite a thing. When I create an interior I am pulling together all those elements and I just love it.

What’s your favorite room in your house?
My favorite room in my house is the living room. We painted the walls a dark olive which was risky but turned out to be the perfect backdrop/ canvas for all the eclectic furnishing we have collected over the years.

How would you describe your painting style?
I don’t quite have a name for my style although some have said contemporary realism.  I am very inspired by Matisse, Vermeer and Hopper to name a few. I learn something everyday when I paint.

For more information about Catherine Nolin and her work, visit her website and Etsy store.

From our partners

r.i.p. eva zeisel, wonderful artist & ceramic designer


My husband gave me (well, us) a wonderful gift for Christmas. A set of Eva Zeisel’s classic dishware to go with the gorgeous gravy boat and serving dish we already have. We’ve been coveting it for years, and have been making the splurge. It is so delicate and simple. Design at its purist.

This morning I read in The New York Times that she passed away, at the age of 105 (!) after a lifetime of doing what she loved and bring delightful objects into the world. We have written about our admiration for this remarkable woman and her work before.

Tonight, I’m going to serve some Swedish meatballs in this bowl, and toast the New Year in Eva’s honor. — Angela M.

Previous posts on Eva Zeisel:
A peek in Eva Zeisel’s studio

Ode Eva Zeisel

From our partners

ready for the new year with a little tangerine tango


I love it when one of my style constants becomes a trend, like leopard print this season. That’s why I have a great feeling about 2012. One of my favorite colors — reddish orange — has already been declared color of the year by Pantone. They are calling it Tangerine Tango, but lucky for me it looks exactly like the color of the Eames Eiffel chairs we splurged on for our dining room last year. So for the next year our dining room will be THE place to be! Hooray. Imagine the fabulousness when I wear my new Jcrew Minnie pants in Vibrant flame and my Kat von T lipstick in A Go Go red. Yes, friends, I already have all these Tangerine Tango-ish shades at home. I am all set.

If you are not already a orange worshiper like myself, perhaps now is the time to start. I recommend picking up a Pantone color of the year mug, $25, and starting a new tradition. In just a few years, you’ll have yourself a vibrant set. — Angela

Will you be adding Tangerine Tango to your life? Let me know.

From our partners

antique toast rack: the perfect family-sized napkin holder


Right now, switching to cloth napkins is pretty low down on my green list. We’ve given it a go three different times but until life is a little less chaotic, it’s not practical for us to do every day. So after throwing in the towel yet again summer, I seplaceed in vain for something that would keep more than a handful of napkins in easy reach without taking up a ton of table space. No go. Then I was flipping through old tear sheets and saw the now-familiar toast rack used as a letter holder idea. Eureka! A seller on Etsy had an antique silver toast rack and tray for under $20. Thanks to the size, we can have 50 or so napkins on the table. And as luck would have it, the tray, which was made to hold small pots of marmalade, is the perfect size for salt and pepper or the oft-used bottle of Tabasco. You can find toast racks with trays on the usual sites — eBay, Etsy and Ruby Lane — starting for around $10. — Sarah L.

From our partners

the joys of cooking with enameled cast iron


I’ve never been one for traditional cast iron – I just don’t have the patience for keeping it in tip-top shape. But ever since I splurged on my first piece of Le Creuset (on super clearance at Macy’s, if memory serves) a few years ago, I’ve been smitten with cooking in enameled cast iron. Expensive though it is, enameled cast iron is unquestionably my cookware of choice now, for nearly everything but crepes and fried eggs. It has just enough non-stick properties to make clean-up relatively easy, browns food beautifully, heats evenly and holds onto that heat well, and is so bright and cheery, it’s a joy to look at in my cupboards. Plus, the stuff is virtually indestructible. In fact, I still have two pieces of enameled cast iron my grandmother gave me years ago, that she had gotten from her mother. While there are a few chips here and there, they still cook perfectly.

Are you a fan of enameled cast iron? Do you have a favorite line? I tend to remain partial to Le Creuset, if only because there’s an outlet 45 minutes from my house (if you have one nearby, get on their mailing list – 30-40% discount coupons are prolific!), but I’m always curious about Staub, and some of the excellent vintage enamelware out there (all perfectly fine to buy, just make sure there aren’t any chips on the cooking surface). I recently found a piece of Dansk at Goodwill, and brought it home, but it’s incredibly thin, which means it’s screaming hot in a matter of seconds. Great for stir-fry, but not much else.

Have you tried enameled cast iron? Do you have a favorite brand? And if you collect it, I’m curious – do you stick to one color, or do you go for the rainbow effect? –Becki S.

From our partners