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MAD MEN SEASON 6
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steal this idea: asian plate wall

Sometimes you find decor inspiration when you are least expecting it. The other night, we ducked inside Noodie’s on 9th Ave in NYC for a quick pad thai before a concert (not just any concert, but Leonard Cohen at Radio City). Faced across from this wall full of gorgeous Asian bowls, I could hardly concentrate on my chopsticks. Going up at least 20 feet high, there were about 175 bowls of various sizes drilled onto the wall. The large ones were statement pieces, the kinds you’d use to impress guests with a whole sea bass; others were standard issue rice bowls that are about 99 cents each at Pearl River. To make an impact like that, you’d have to quite a collection of your own, but I think 10 to 15 plates would be a good place to start. The key is to have a palette of colors that work well together — here it was a mix of browns and blues with some pops of red. To adhere to the wall, you’ll need an electric drill with a diamond head drill bit, a C-clamp, spare wood pieces, masking tape, a friend, and patience. Here’s how it’s recommended over at Ehow:

How To Drill A Ceramic Plate To The Wall:
1. Cover the place on the ceramic plate where you want to drill a hole with a strip of masking tape, then mark the exact point for the hole with a pencil dot on the tape. The masking tape will prevent the drill bit from slipping when you begin drilling though it.

2. Place a flat piece of scrap wood on the surface underneath the plate. Position a G-clamp around the wood and plate, place a small piece of scrap wood between the top of the clamp and plate, then screw the clamp closed to hold the plate firmly in place.

3. Fit your drill with a diamond bit of the appropriate size for the hole you want to drill. Set the drill to a speed of 100 to 200 rpm.

4. Recruit a friend or family member to spray the drill bit with cold water as you work when you are ready to drill through the plate. This prevents the bit from overheating.

5. Position the drill bit over the pencil mark on the masking tape and hold it at a perfect right angle to the plate. Begin to drill slowly and steadily without applying any additional pressure. Don’t be tempted to speed up or press down as you work, just take your time and let the drill bit do all the work.

6. Stop drilling as soon as you feel that you have gone all the way through the plate and into the scrap wood underneath it. Un-clamp the plate, wipe it clean with a soft rag and remove the masking tape.

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want it now: new mad men poster

We’re dusting off our cocktail shakers and getting ready to cozy up with Don Draper in tonight’s overdue return of Mad Men. The year will be 1968, and the show’s set design will no doubt be getting groovy. The transition from mod, streamlined mid-century design to organic and shaggy late 60s should be interesting. You can see the mood shift already in the new official poster. Gone are sharp graphics and free-falling silhouettes. They’ve been replaced with hand-drawn lines and pencil shading. It was created by an illustration master Brian Sanders and it is reminiscent of the kind of work that was frequently found in magazines like Reader’s Digest in the early 70s. Not only does the drawing hint at the drama that may lie ahead, but it also the change in fashions. (Note the wide striped tie — radical for Don.) Unfortunately, the team at AMC has not made the new work available for purchase. We might just have to pick up one of these more classic graphics from Needle Design, below, available through Fancy for $30.

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re-energized by design: the office/garage challenge

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The second elimination challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition is here! This time, each team had the option to makeover either the garage or an office. My team, The Bedfords, decided to makeover an office.

This space serves as a multi-purpose room for the Bedfords: an office for Slade, a guest room, and a napping space for the youngest member of the family, Theo. I was overwhelmed by the dark window coverings, multiple desks, and overall cluttered feel of the room. Something struck me immediately though — the giant, vintage pull-down school map of the United States. SO COOL! I decided to let that be the focal point of the space, and pulled all of the room’s inspiration from the color palate and theme. The color, Overjoy by Sherwin Williams, is a nice, warm golden yellow. It’s a perfect counterpoint to grey Seattle skies, and also complements the yellow and golden hues in the map without looking to pastel. This is a man’s office after all, so I wanted an air of distinguished masculinity to permeate the room. That being said, Slade wasn’t too convinced of my bold color choice at first.

Not having tons of money ($500), we scrapped plans for new furniture and instead focused on organizing and styling the space. We got rid of one of the two heavy dark wood desks, immediately making the room feel more open. I took the yellow-brass drawer pulls from the desk and antiqued them, making it look more expensive and more like an actual antique than the 1990’s repro it actually is. We purchased some dark wood shelving, a new set of Nate Berkus curtains from Target, and some nice dark wood blinds to help block out the light when little Theo is taking a siesta. Bonus — those window treatments will help reduce energy costs by blocking out the brutal summer sun through those west facing windows.

Instead of buying a brand new light fixture, we found a vintage one at our local buliding salvage for a song. We paired it with a dimmer switch to allow maximum flexibility for the multi-functioning room. The brassy 70’s feel of the fixture helped tie some of the pre-existing furniture into the new design. In fact, our motto for this room became “embrace the brass” — Kristen scored a few vintage hand-me-down brass lamps that really added some warmth and more focused light around the room. We outfitted everything with new GE LED bulbs, modernizing the vintage fixtures and adding an abundance of more functional light while simultaneously reducing the overall wattage.

Once again, the room was styled mostly with items from the Bedford’s home: an emerald green ceramic stool from the backyard added a touch of the orient, a vintage beer barrel from the basement served as a unique side table, and memorabilia from previous travels became art. My favorite little touch? Those three inexpensive matching clocks echoing the travel vibe. So fun.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how this room turned out. Slade, despite his reservations at first, loves it as well. And most importantly, the judges loved it! They gave me high praise for my color selection this week. Let’s see if this momentum keeps up — the living room challenge is next week!

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help! we need to replace our ikea coffee table with something more grownup

After three year’s in our house, we have are slowly replacing our Ikea furniture with more permanent pieces. The one at the center of our home — and indeed, the center of our lives it seems — is our Strind coffee table. It serves us well, offsetting a dark brown leather couch with its round white surfaces and delicate metal legs. We love the bottom shelf for stacking our current selection of magazines and children’s books (both of which seems to pile up effortlessly). The wheels make it easy to push aside when it’s time for one Isadora’s gymnastic demonstrations or we just want to kick our feet up with ease. But, it is getting wobbly.

To keep the balance in the room, we’d like to stick with white and round. We’ve found a few options. Which one do you like?


The Sybil table reminds me of the 70s rec rooms from my youth. It’s pretty groovy, but maybe too heavy? As a bonus, the top level swivels for optimal drink poising. $550 at modernfurniture.com


A high gloss and metal table is the most elegant of the bunch. $565 at bastores.com


Classic modern may be the way to go. The white version of the design stable seems sensible. $313 at inmodehome.com

What do you think? Any suggestions I should consider?

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re-energized by design: the bathroom challenge

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Well, the time has finally arrived — time for the first room challenge in the Re-Energized By Design competition! Our first room to be made over: the bathroom.

Kristen and Slade’s downstairs guest bathroom was not lacking design challenges. The ceiling was (and still is) crazy-low, compounded by the globe light fixture stealing precious head room. The long, narrow, space was overwhelmed by a wall-length mirror and a clunky MDF storage unit. The bright white walls clashed with the off-white tiles and beige tile floors, which were actually kind of cool and in good shape. The bathroom, though a guest bath, also functions as the primary bathroom for the Bedford’s two young boys.

My goal for this bathroom was to create a whimsical yet modern room that feels much more open and bright, with a definite nautical vibe for the boys. I suggested that we use a nice bold marine blue paint (Sailor’s Sea Blue from Benjamin Moore) to complement the warm neutral tone of the tiles; and took the paint up to the tile line rather than the ceiling to give the illusion of a more open space. Since the room’s only window is in the middle of the shower, we used a double curtain open in the center to frame the window like drapery rather than a traditional single curtain. And we used an unconventional material for those shower curtains: canvas drop cloth from the hardware store! A smaller porthole-like mirror, dark-stained wood shelves and bright red towels added some functionality to our design; and Kristen shopped her own home to style the space with art and fun accessories.

As far as energy efficient changes go, Kristen and Slade installed a new low-flow shower head and WaterSense faucet, significantly reducing their hot water usage. That claustrophobia-inducing globe light fixture? Replaced by a recessed fixture with a low-wattage LED that gives them better lighting and more space. And the piece de resistance: a new light fixture over the mirror that gives more focused light for makeup applications and adds a great deal of that nautical vibe to the room. We sourced our fixture somewhere you may not have expected: the outdoor light section. Outdoor fixtures work in damp environments, and can have that industrial modern look that we needed for this project. And the GE Bright from the Start CFL didn’t look tacky in the clear glass globe, a definite change from the CFL’s I had become accustomed to.

I loved how our bathroom turned out. I’ll be honest, this was my first foray into design for someone other than myself, and I was delighted by the result of collaborating with the Bedfords. Thankfully, the judges loved the space as well, declaring it “phenomenal” — so we’ll be going on to compete for the next room. What did you think of what we did?

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