I love thermoses and carafes — vacuum flasks as they’re technically known. Maybe it hearkens back to my Snoopy thermos in first grade, filled with perfectly piping hot tomato soup for lunch, or to my first date with my now husband, who poured me a sip of syrupy espresso from his trusty Nissan stainless thermos (still in action to this day). But now, I find myself snatching vintage thermoses up on every thrifting trip I’ve been on of late. I’m pretty choosy about which ones I buy, so I’m careful to inspect them for (1) gross odors (2) shattered or cracked glass liners (yes many of the vintage varieties were glass, which makes them fragile) and (3) the condition of the seals. Most of what I’ve bought has been pristine — hardly, if ever used — which helps seal the deal. If you’re willing to risk it, eBay is a treasure trove of vintage vacuum flasks: this beauty is $9.99, BIN (with returns accepted).
My favorite? That heavy, unbreakable stainless Uno-Vac in the back. That bad boy has seen some life — and is still, amazingly, spotless and funk-free inside. Later this week, Ol’ Ironsides (as I’ve dubbed it) will be filled with 24 oz. of something delicious (which, depending on the weather, will be either hot or cold) and brought along on our hike into the forest as part of our five year wedding anniversary celebration! — Megan B.
When the dog days of summer hit, there is literally nothing that sounds better to me than lying in a shaded hammock, reading a magazine and sipping iced tea in a perfect summer breeze. Take a moment and picture it. Yep, it’s that good. Trust me… your midsummer naps will never be the same.
It’s not nearly as unattainable as it sounds. This is the modern age! No more are hammocks limited to those of us with plantation-style backyards, or two perfectly-spaced mature trees. Even the smallest of outdoor spaces, and virtually any budget, will set you up for total hammock nirvana.
The easiest, of course, is the stand hammock. You’ll need a 15×8 area to set one up, and to allow room for swaying blissfully in the breeze (though 20×10 would be more comfortable). But if you have the space, the rest is child’s play. Get creative – use a side yard, ditch a dilapidated patio set, or repurpose a long front deck to house your hammock. The least expensive stands are metal, while wood is a pricier (but prettier) option. Metal also wins on durability, though; a wood version is more vulnerable to the elements. Be sure to check the assembled dimensions before you buy. And also check weight restrictions…if you want a two-person hammock, be sure your stand can handle it. Last, buy the stand separately from the hammock, and you’ll likely get a better quality version of both.
If you happen to have those two perfectly-spaced trees, of course, all you’ll need are a pair of hammock straps – webbed straps with carabiner attachments. You’ll see chain kits out there, but chains are very damaging to trees. The flat webbing is a much kinder option. You can also go with screw-in hooks, just make sure you’re using a hardwood tree like an oak or pine. Softer woods may not hold the screws over time, and being dropped on your backside does not make for good naps.
The actual hammock is the next piece of the puzzle. Decide whether you want a two-seater or a single (I say, the more room, the merrier). Next, you’ll have a bevy of materials to choose from. Rope is the classic, of course. It’s also the least expensive and easiest to keep clean (since dirt and water can’t stick). It’s also the least comfortable. Cotton rope will yield more comfort, while polyester rope yields greater durability – it’s a toss-up. For my money, I prefer the quilted canvas versions. The colors do fade in the sun (though you can find versions in Sunbrella fabric that would reduce that considerably), and they have to be hosed off a few times a summer, but the comfy factor is unparalleled. Do yourself a favor and spring for the matching pillow.
If neither of those options work for you, don’t fear – no one goes hammock-less on my watch! Consider a hammock swing. Sure, it’s not the sexiest thing on the block, but there’s an excellent case to be made for function over form in this case. And you can hang them using either a stand or an eye hook drilled into your roof eaves or the ceiling on your porch. Enlist someone handy for an aerial installation – you want the hook installed into a stud so you don’t go flying! Again, I love the upholstered versions, and they happen to be much easier on the eyes than their rope counterparts. But they’re pricier as well – you can score a rope version for under $100. There are nylon versions out there too, but they’re so unfortunate-looking, I can’t even bring myself to show them to you.
A few final tips from a hammock old-timer: I recommend buying a couple of carabiners to attach your hammock to its stand or hooks – it makes it so much easier to attach and detach for shaking off and for storage. You can even install a large eye-hook in the ceiling of your garage or under your roof eaves and store the hammock there during the winter months, leaving the stand assembled and pushed out of the way. Also, be sure to double check length measurements of both the hammock and stand before you buy. Most are a standard size, but it’s always good to double-check.
And last, grab that magazine and iced tea before you settle in…once you’re in the hammock, you’ll be amazed at how quickly being anywhere else in the world sounds like too much work. — Becki S.
A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.
Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.
We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.
What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!
This is a sponsored post.
The moment everyone’s been waiting for is here! The reveal of the final rooms in the Re-Energized by Design Competition is live, in a super-sized two parter. This time, the two remaining teams have TWICE the budget, a room full of LED lighting from GE Lighting, and a full range of gorgeous and energy efficient appliances from Frigidaire to pimp their room. We are REALLY going to see some major transformations happening here.
The GE LED lighting is available in many different “temperatures” of color, something that can dramatically affect in how things look in your kitchen. I experienced this first hand after I painted my own kitchen recently. I loved the paint color in daylight, but at night, the color looked awful. I switched out to a softer LED bulb (3000K) and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. And I won’t be needing to change the bulb (or the wall color, thankfully) for 25 years!
I really wish our team, the Bedford family, had made it to this final round. They could have really benefitted from those new Frigidare Gallery appliances — the ultra efficient induction range alone is a huge safety boost for families with young children (less burning risk). There’s no need to replace existing cookware, either — if a magnet sticks to the pan, it will work with induction. And a convection oven is a must-have for those of us who love to bake.
The Sayers, of course, did not disappoint in this challenge by using some unconventional materials to maximize their budget — and because they are obviously just cool like that. I loved their use of the salvaged steel chalkboard as a backsplash; and that mirror in the kitchen (though I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning it) reminds me of my days as a culinary instructor, where we taught with a huge mirror over the butcher block. All this and surprisingly below budget!
The Reilly family has consistently been more traditional in their design choices, though I’ll admit I really liked what they did in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with the combination of white subway tile and dark grout, I always say. And the paint treatment on the cabinets? Spot On. No matter what team wins the grand prize, both these families have beautiful new kitchens to enjoy for years and years to come.
What do you think of the final room? Is it the Sayers family’s funky loft or the Reilly’s clean classic kitchen that should earn the $5000 grand prize? Watch and see who takes home the giant check below!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
It’s that time again — time for the next challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition! This week, the remaining four teams are making over the living room. The Bedford’s room is dramatic, with vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows (with some broken panes). I found the space overwhelmed by the arc lamp and the red brick fireplace, but not in a good way. Also — there was not a lot of lighting options. Reading was impossible on the couch unless it was daytime, and entertaining? Dim lights might be fine for a nightclub, but for a family-friendly party? Not so much. The stairs were just exposed plywood splattered with paint. Not much on the walls in regards to art, either. Their furniture was good though — a nice neutral modern sectional, and an heirloom mid-century lounge chair and dresser.
Rather than using bold bright colors on the walls, we went dark — Dark gray on that red brick fireplace. Instead of painting everything one color, we only painted two walls in the dark gray; and used a lighter gray on an accent wall and staircase, leaving the rest of the room white, allowing the space to feel more intimate and cozy without overwhelming the space with such a dark color. And next to the fireplace, Slade put in some nice open shelving painted to blend into the wall, styled with art and objects from around the house. We also broke up their sectional and reconfigured it, and flipped over their old rug for a more industrial look. Kristen also repainted their coffee table glossy black.
Kristen made some colorful decoupage art; and I (along with my uber-talented seamstress pal Suzanne) got to work on some accent pillows, a floor pouf, and the reupholstering of the mid-century lounger with a colorful new fabric. I thought the chair turned out gorgeous, going from something you barely noticed to something that can anchor a space on its own. If you know me, you know I had to work in some of my signature vintage orange velvet, too. But I’m honestly proudest of that pouf: my first sewing project in 4 years, made entirely by myself, with NO PATTERN. The boys instantly gravitated toward it. Liam declaring it “his dice”, proceeded to toss it around the room and jump all over it.
In the energy improvement category, the Bedfords did a lot as well to improve their usage. Slade installed (from scratch) a LED track lighting system that we hid behind the beam, so we could add light around the room on the bookcases, on the couch, and on the new art. We also swapped out LED bulbs for incandescent in the other lamps around the room, adding significantly more light to the space while reducing the wattage in half. Slade caulked all the windows and beams, helping to reduce heat loss. They also put their stereo and charging docks on a smart powerstrip, so they can reduce that energy loss when not in use. And if that wasn’t enough, they reduced their thermostat 3 degrees to produce a significant savings in energy usage.
Alas, it wasn’t enough for the judges, sadly. I loved our room — basically, I think it all came down to a matter of points. I wish we had more time on this room, we could have done so much more. My project checklist had about 10 more to-do’s left unchecked, believe it or not. Our fatal error was when our plans to make fabric roman shades for the windows became impossible; rather than the shade choice made, I wish we could have thrown up some cute no-sew curtains on tension rods. I think that could have made enough of a difference to get us into the next round. Twenty-twenty hindsight, I guess. Honestly, I’m proud we made it this far; a lot of which I should credit to the valiant efforts of Kristen and Slade. Our rooms were up against some pretty stiff competition from professional architects and designers, so our rag-tag team of DIY’ers made a good show!
Stick around for next week’s post, where
I bitterly tear apart the remaining contestant’s rooms with derisive judgements we see how the competition proceeds with the laundry room challenge! Who will get the chop next?
This is a sponsored post.
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!
One of the things that stood out to me when we moved to Portland was how, besides all the chicken coops, Â all the neighborhoods had one common element: sidewalk tree swings. After growing up in New Jersey, and then living in DC and Denver as an adult, I have never seen the â€œmedianâ€ space between the sidewalk and street used in such a playful way. Even our neighbors, who have no small children of their own, put up a tire swing and tether ball for the neighborhood kids to use. Sadly, we donâ€™t have a tree out front to install our own swing. But if you do, here are a few easy-to-hang options:
â€¢ Disc swing from Wood Tree Swings, $55, includes a hanging kit that prevents rope from cutting into tree limbs and makes set-up a breeze.
â€¢ Sassaras Ladybug Rope Swing, $25.
â€¢ IKEA EKORRE hand rings, $10. Nope, not a swing. But the neighbor two doors down from us put this up, and itâ€™s a magnet for older kids.
â€¢ And then thereâ€™s always the classic: a swing made from an old tire sitting in your garage.
Are sidewalk swings and play things a typical neighborhood feature where you live, or are we a bit of an anomaly out here in the Pacific Northwest? –Ginny F.
Yellow swing image by Flickr user Yume Photo
I am not immune to the current globe and map trend. Quite the contrary, I love the idea. Finding a globe I like is another matter altogether. Any I’ve seen seem too bright (vivid blues) or too dark. I dug through my tearsheets, hoping to find inspiration and instead, realized the perfect globe was all in my head. It sat on my parent’s dresser for all of my childhood. It had an antique parchment finish and best of all, when you pulled the tiny chain, it lit the entire room in a warm amber glow. So I hopped on eBay and cue the chorus â€” foundÂ the Replogle lighted globe. The only problem? In the years since its production, boundaries and countries have changed and for the kid’s academic sake, I figured I should at least try and find a globe from this century. So I typed Replogle into eBay and it turns out they’re still being made in Chicago, just like they were all those years ago when my parent’s bought one. Find out more about Replogle at their site, view products and find a retailer near you. Also available online through Amazon. â€” Sarah L.
When we were looking to move from an apartment to a house, there was one thing we knew we wanted: a front porch. Now our porch has truly become the hang-out spot of our dreams thanks to a brand new “vintage” glider.
Even though wicker is big in our neighborhood, we knew we wanted something that suited our vintage mod style — and we did not want to sit still! After doing some reseplace online and in some salvage yards, we quickly learned that fine vintage metal furniture is hard to come by. Even the most rusty pieces were hundreds of dollars. We debated buying something that needed some TLC, but sanding and refinishing it ourselves would take a little more elbow grease than we had to spare. So, where does one buy a refurbished vintage glider? Why, at vintageglider.com of course! You can browse styles on the site (ours is called “pie crust”) and order the color of your choice. Six weeks later, the UPS truck arrives with a beautiful piece. Yes, the prices is higher than a rusty one, but it does include delivery. Now that ours in in place, we are gliding and smiling every day. — Angela M.