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- 04/05/13--06:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Tabl...
- 04/11/13--11:30: _5 Favorites: Minty ...
- 04/25/13--12:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Clev...
- 05/01/13--10:30: _5 Favorites: Bricks...
- 05/08/13--10:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Spic...
- 06/17/13--11:30: _5 Favorites: Porch ...
- 08/05/13--04:00: _5 Quick Fixes: Canv...
- 08/08/13--10:00: _5 Quick Fixes: New ...
- 11/18/13--08:00: _5 Quick Fixes: Elev...
- 06/04/12--07:15: _5 Favorites: Wall-M...
- 06/08/12--08:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Inst...
- 06/22/12--08:30: _5 Favorites: Black ...
- 07/02/12--10:30: _5 Favorites: Scandi...
- 07/09/12--10:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Savi...
- 07/10/12--13:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Cook...
- 07/11/12--08:30: _10 Ingenious Space-...
- 07/12/12--06:30: _5 Essentials: Smoke...
- 07/20/12--04:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Inst...
- 08/06/12--13:15: _5 Favorites: The Di...
- 08/14/12--11:30: _5 Favorites: Fuss-F...
- 08/15/12--08:00: _5 Favorites: Ultima...
- 08/22/12--13:30: _5 Favorites: Childr...
- 08/24/12--12:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Bran...
- 09/10/12--08:30: _5 Quick Fixes: The ...
- 09/12/12--10:30: _5 Favorites: Indust...
- 09/24/12--14:20: _5 Favorites: Slidin...
- 10/08/12--08:30: _5 Quick Fixes: The ...
- 10/22/12--08:30: _5 Favorites: Minima...
- 10/29/12--10:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Inst...
- 11/01/12--06:30: _5 Favorites: Birds ...
- 11/07/12--10:30: _5 Favorites: Plumbi...
- 11/12/12--10:00: _5 Quick Fixes: Coll...
- 11/13/12--11:30: _5 Favorites: Plywoo...
- 11/16/12--09:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Drie...
- 11/26/12--08:35: _5 Favorites: Color-...
- 12/07/12--14:30: _DIY: 5 Easy Paper H...
- 12/13/12--06:30: _Holiday Gift Guide:...
- 12/18/12--08:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Repu...
- 01/22/13--09:30: _5 Tips for Taking C...
- 02/28/13--06:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Inve...
- 02/28/13--10:30: _6 Solutions for the...
- 03/22/13--04:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Inst...
- 03/25/13--04:30: _Miracles Do Exist: ...
- 04/01/13--04:30: _7 Secrets for Livin...
- 11/27/13--10:00: _5 Favorites: In-Cou...
- 11/29/13--04:00: _5 Favorites: Tradit...
- 06/18/14--06:00: _5 Quick Fixes: Solu...
- 12/16/14--10:00: _7 Quick Fixes: Holi...
- 05/23/12--12:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Gard...
- 05/22/12--06:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Outd...
- 04/05/13--06:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Tablets in the Kitchen
- 04/11/13--11:30: 5 Favorites: Minty Green Bathrooms, Retro Edition
- 04/25/13--12:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Clever Camouflage for the Washer/Dryer
- 05/01/13--10:30: 5 Favorites: Bricks Made Modern
- 05/08/13--10:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Spice Rack Solutions
- 06/17/13--11:30: 5 Favorites: Porch Swing Roundup
- 08/05/13--04:00: 5 Quick Fixes: Canvas Drop Cloths as Instant Decor
- 08/08/13--10:00: 5 Quick Fixes: New Ways to Hang Art
- 11/18/13--08:00: 5 Quick Fixes: Elevating the Napkin, Thanksgiving Edition
- 06/04/12--07:15: 5 Favorites: Wall-Mounted Space-Saving Furniture
- 06/08/12--08:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Instant Headboards
- 06/22/12--08:30: 5 Favorites: Black and White Bathrooms
- 07/02/12--10:30: 5 Favorites: Scandinavian-Style Showers
- 07/09/12--10:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Saving Time the Smart Way
- 07/10/12--13:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Cooking Utensils for Small Space Living
- 07/11/12--08:30: 10 Ingenious Space-Efficient Kitchens
- 07/12/12--06:30: 5 Essentials: Smoke Alarm Roundup
- 07/20/12--04:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Instant Rope Handles and Pulls
- 08/06/12--13:15: 5 Favorites: The Dip-Dyed Trend Continues
- 08/14/12--11:30: 5 Favorites: Fuss-Free Ice Cream Makers
- 08/15/12--08:00: 5 Favorites: Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens
- 08/22/12--13:30: 5 Favorites: Children's Climbing Walls
- 08/24/12--12:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Branches as Children's Room Decor
- 09/10/12--08:30: 5 Quick Fixes: The Efficient Utility Room
- 09/12/12--10:30: 5 Favorites: Industrial Bar Carts
- 09/24/12--14:20: 5 Favorites: Sliding Barn Doors in the Kitchen
- 10/08/12--08:30: 5 Quick Fixes: The Versatile Biergarten Table
- 10/22/12--08:30: 5 Favorites: Minimalist Concealed Kitchens
- 10/29/12--10:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Instant Halloween Decor, Black Matte Edition
- 11/01/12--06:30: 5 Favorites: Birds as Decor
- 11/07/12--10:30: 5 Favorites: Plumbing Pipe Fixtures
- 11/12/12--10:00: 5 Quick Fixes: Collecting Rainwater with Style
- 11/13/12--11:30: 5 Favorites: Plywood Ceilings
- 11/16/12--09:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Dried Foliage as Decor
- 11/26/12--08:35: 5 Favorites: Color-Saturated Yellow Lamp Shades
- 12/07/12--14:30: DIY: 5 Easy Paper Holiday Decor
- 12/13/12--06:30: Holiday Gift Guide: For the Children of Design Dictators
- 12/18/12--08:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Repurposed Doors as Decor
- 01/22/13--09:30: 5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Books
- 02/28/13--06:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Inventive Toilet Paper Storage
- 02/28/13--10:30: 6 Solutions for the Children's Bathroom
- 03/22/13--04:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Instant Burlap Decorating Solutions
- 04/01/13--04:30: 7 Secrets for Living with a Flat-Screen TV, Cord Control Edition
- 11/27/13--10:00: 5 Favorites: In-Counter Compost Solutions
- 11/29/13--04:00: 5 Favorites: Traditional Cast Iron Skillets
- 06/18/14--06:00: 5 Quick Fixes: Solutions for Anchoring the Outdoor Tablecloth
- 12/16/14--10:00: 7 Quick Fixes: Holiday Gift Wrap
- 05/23/12--12:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Garden Hose Management
- 05/22/12--06:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Outdoor Lanterns
Recipes, cooking apps, pasta-making tutorials. What's not to love about the bottomless recipe book and culinary courses available on tablets? Food splatters on the screen, for one. Spilled milk on the counter where the tablet lays, for another. I'm having my own debate about my tablet's readiness to be in the kitchen. Is the iPad ready to be a kitchen appliance? Where do you stand?
If you are a devotee of your tablet as cooking assistant, let us know your favorite cooking apps in the comment section below.
Above: Designer Andrea Ponti's Bosco Cutting Board and iPad Stand is the product that could get my iPad to migrate to the kitchen counter top.
Above: An "experiment with the relationship between technology and a kitchen tool that is often dull and flat but used daily", the Bosco Cutting Board and iPad Stand is made of Ginkgo wood hand-carved out of a single log by Kyoto craftsmen. Take the cutting board out of the stand and replace with an iPad. Still a prototype, I am hoping it comes to market soon. Images via Andrea Ponti Design.
Above: I prefer to keep disposables at bay. While it doesn't protect from monumental spills, the washable, anti-glare Williams Sonoma iPad Screen Shield keeps your iPad splatter free; $14.95.
Above: The best idea may be to keep the iPad off the counter altogether. There are a variety of wall-mount options. My favorites are those with minimal visible hardware like Vogel's RingO Wall Mount; $66.95 at Amazon.
Above: I am not sure our family needs another draw to the refrigerator, but an option to keep your kitchen tablet off the counter without a permanent fix is the magnetic FridgePad for iPad; £34.99 at Woodford Design.
Maybe a Tablet Disguise is the way to go?
Until very recently, if I had moved into a house or an apartment with a fifties-style mint green sink I would have shrieked in horror and called the plumber. Lately, though, I've been noticing appealing bathrooms with original plumbing fixtures featuring a fifties retro charm.
Above: A bath in Brooklyn designed by Elizabeth Roberts: "We took every single tile off the wall and rearranged them in this bath," Roberts says (see the rest of the house at A Brownstone in Brooklyn, Reborn).
Above: A minty green vintage enamel sink; photo by David Ross.
Above: A bath in the Melbourne home of Luke Mortimer, spotted on Design Sponge.
Above: A jadeite sink and tub in Australia, photo by Toby Scott.
Above: A fifties-style green sink, photo by Lisa Hubbard.
Here are some inspiring ways to integrate that new (or old) washer and dryer set—especially useful for those of us who live in small spaces.
Above: Colorful barn doors hide the laundry, via House Beautiful.
Above: Eric Pike's NYC kitchen features a stacked washer and dryer next to a refrigerator, via Martha Stewart.
Above: In this traditional UK laundry room, the small-scale washer and dryer are concealed behind curtains; see Steal This Look: Traditional English Laundry Room.
Above: Suspended sliding base units in dark oak built by Antonio Citterio hides a linen closet and washer/dryer in the kitchen.
For more reasons to redesign your laundry room, sift through 57 Laundry & Utility Rooms in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 8, 2012.
Spotted lately: bricks used in unexpected ways (as kitchen island base, as herringbone floors, as a decorative motif): here are five of our favorite examples (OK, seven—we couldn't help ourselves).
Above: The brick hearth and mantle are surprisingly modern looking in this Norfolk barn by Carl Turner Architects.
Above: Gray stone bricks in a kitchen from Ina & Matt Studio.
Above: Bricks function as herringbone pattern floors at this Danish summerhouse via Purple Area.
Above: A brick kitchen counter from Frank Visser and Mirjam Bleeker's book Dutch Architects and Their Houses.
Above: Bricks support a rustic wood column in a converted barn from Dutch design studio Ina & Matt.
Above: A minor brick detail accents the Dinesen wood floors; see our post on Walls, Windows & Floors: Dinesen Wooden Floors in Denmark.
Above: Bricks made pale with a light wash of white paint from Norm Architects in Copenhagen.
This post is an update; the original ran on July 24, 2012.
There is something undeniably pleasing about a well-designed spice rack.
When I moved into my first apartment, my top priority when stocking the kitchen was to buy little glass jars for all the hand-me-down spices that I acquired (the benefit of having a chef for a mother). Here are five quick solutions for the kitchen spice display.
Above: Spices hung neatly on the wall in the home of Allen Hemberger; photo via Design Sponge.
Above: Salts displayed in Weck jars and labeled with kraft paper stickers; $25 for the set of three each at Terrain.
Above: Create a spice drawer using Ikea's Droppar Jars made of glass and stainless steel; $9.99 each.
This isn't our only kitchen storage secret; take a look at our post on 10 Strategies for Hiding the Microwave.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 11, 2012.
A friend emailed to say she was searching for a porch swing, which made us realize we hadn't covered this category before. It also made us realize that it's actually hard to find a good exemplar; here are five we like (plus a bonus DIY project).
Above: Loll Design's Go Porch Swing is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic reclaimed from used milk jugs. The swing hangs from black nylon cord with stainless steel fasteners; $850 from Design Within Reach.
Above: Wood Country Cabbage Hill Red Cedar Porch Swing (shown above with a whitewashed stain); $336.69 at the Porch Swing Company.
Above: The White Banks Bed is made in South Carolina; go to Bulls Bay for ordering information.
Above: The Louisiana Cypress Swing Bed is $475 from Louisiana Cypress.
Above: The Kingsley Bate St. George Porch Swing is made of solid teak with solid brass fittings; $590 at Wayfair.
Above: A DIY Porch Swing via Ana White.
For more porch inspiration, see Summer Screened Porch Roundup.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 8, 2012.
One of the easiest—and most underutilized—interior design strategies? Drape your furniture in simple cotton canvas painter's drop cloths.
Above: Wrapped in a drop cloth, a sofa becomes a Christo-like work of art; this one is in antique store owner Hitoshi Uchida's home in Kamakura, Japan. Photo via The Selby.
Above: A chair is invitingly rumpled, via OWI.
Above: A covered chair from Le Dans La.
Above: An instant bedspread, via Kikette Interiors. Although this one appears to be linen, a laundered painter's drop cloth would also work.
Above: The draped sofa adds a casual note to a potentially formal space; photo by Jim Franco.
Above: Cotton canvas drop cloths are available from several online sources. Ace Hardware offers heavyweight Canvas Drop Cloths in several sizes, ranging in price from $25.99 to $35.99.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 13, 2009.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I lived in a Bauhaus-style apartment with plaster walls that crumbled the minute I put a nail to one. The owners were nice enough and installed rods which allowed me to hang my art using invisible fishing line. Here are a few ideas for hanging art in an unconventional way.
Above: London-based artist Tracey Emin hangs her drawings from wooden slats attached to the ceiling. They were a gift from artist Gary Hume. Photograph by John Shand Kydd for the Wall Street Journal.
Above: Art hangs from a rod attached to the ceiling; via Canadian House and Home.
Above: Wooden clothes hangers display art prints and posters; photo via AT.
Above: An Ikea curtain wire (Dignitet) and office clips display a collection of children's art; photo via The Style Files.
Above: Skirt hangers hang from a wooden rack via Ikea Spotting.
N.B. This post is an update; the original ran on April 24, 2012.
One of the easiest ways to set an enticing table is to get creative with napkins. Here are some favorite ideas. No starch required.
Above: Linen napkins are knotted in the middle at an outdoor dinner hosted by Le Marché St. George in Vancouver, B.C.
Above: Spotted at Bar Agricole in San Francisco, the rolled napkin secured with leather. Here's how to DIY your own leather napkin ties.
Above: Last week on Gardenista, Erin grouped seeded eucalyptus, rosemary, and hypericum together for a Botanical Napkin Ring.
Above: Traditional in shape but unconventional in material: Live Wire Farm's Wooden Napkin Rings, made from Vermont hardwood; $20 each.
For a table setting filled with ideas to steal, see our post on Schoolhouse Electric's Fall Dinner With Friends.
Wall-mounted furniture: a saving grace for small-space living. Here are five of our current space-saving furniture favorites, from outdoor bars to desks to dining tables.
Above: From Mash Studios, the LAX Series Wall Mounted Dining Table is made in California of English walnut with a natural oil finish; $420 at Yliving.
Above: Here's an innovative space-saving furniture design for outdoor entertaining: The Loll Wallbanger. Designed with Urbancase, the Loll Wallbanger is intended for outdoor cocktail parties. The fold-open bar is made of 100-percent recycled high-density polyethylene, and comes in a choice of eight colors; $399 at Horne.
Above: A longtime favorite, the LAX Series Wall Mounted Desk from Mash Studios is made in California of English walnut with a natural oil finish. The sliding cabinet doors are made from folded white powder-coated aluminum that slides freely on a grooved track. The corresponding LAX Wall Mounted Shelves can be hung high for over-desk storage or low to act as a buffet or credenza; $720 and $730 respectively at Design Public.
Above: The Ledge is a clever space-saving cord-management system, drawer, and pullout shelf/work surface from Seattle-based Urbancase. The wall-mounted desk is available in red lacquer or walnut; $1,300 and $1,500 respectively at the A+R Store.
Above: The Clever Wall Hanger, designed by Markus Boge and Patrick Frey, is a wall-mounted drawer that works equally well as a night table in the bedroom, a phone table in the hall, or a storage table in the office. The steel mount is fixed to the wall, and the drawer slides onto it. The birch plywood drawer can be ordered in white, red, or black. Available in small and large; €125 and €145 at Manufactum. (N.B. For more wall-mounted shelves, see "10 Easy Pieces: Wall-Mounted Shelving Systems.")
Above two: New from UK-based design duo Raw Edges (creators of the Stack for Established and Sons) is the Deskbox, designed for Dutch furniture brand Arco. A hit at the recent Salone Mobile in Milan, the Deskbox can be fixed to a wall and acts as a shelf and container (with a clever single pencil holder) when closed. Unfold the top and you have an instant writing desk or laptop station.
As a twenty-something city dweller in a rented apartment, I've become a bit of an ascetic: Investing in bulky furniture is the last thing on my list.
Here are five ideas for an instant headboard that is inexpensive, effortless, and most important, easy to haul into a moving van when and if the time comes.
Above: A headboard outlined in pink paint by Los Angeles designer Alexandra Angle.
Above: Black and white maps lean up against the wall; via 47 Park Avenue.
Above: An entire wall painted in chalkboard paint in the bedroom of German fashion designer Hanne Graumannr; image via Vosges Paris.
Above: A macrame hanging by Portland, OR-based Sally England makes an unexpected headboard; photo via Palace Store.
Above: A chalkboard is a nice choice for welcoming guests or for the children's room; via Jeanine Brennan for Apartment Therapy.
There's nothing quite like a simple black and white bath; the crisp contrast is always pleasing.
Above: An exotic black and white tiled bath in the SoHo home of Olatz Schnabel, photo by Jason Schmidt for The New York Times.
Above: A bath by Mim Design in Australia
Above: A bath in Paris by architect Antonio Virga.
Above: A clever black tiled backsplash; image via Stilinspiration.
Above: A remodeled bath in Austin, Texas, via Design Sponge.
There's something Scandinavian about baths with wooden shower trays (as they're called); here's a few favorites we've bookmarked for future bath remodels:
Above: A shower in Australia that opens to the outdoors, via The Selby.
Above: A Northern Californian bath by Aidlin Darling Design.
Above: A glass wall panel creates a corner shower; photo via from Cesana.
Above: A perfectly proportioned bath by Cary Bernstein.
Above: A corner shower with wood tray via Agape.
N.B.: Looking for more inspiration? See 732 images of our favorite Showers in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.
Citizens of the world, consider the future kitchen: you brew a rapid espresso while your refrigerator delivers the news, while an app starts a new wash of laundry, while a robot cleans the kitchen floor. We've tracked down five time-saving appliances with the potential to radically change your daily routine for the better.
Above: The Samsung 4-Door LCD Refrigerator with Apps can do it all: keep track of your groceries, sync up with your Google calendar, read news updates from Associated Press, leave messages for family members, and more with the WiFi enabled LCD touch screen. The refrigerator has 28 cubic feet capacity and features double-door refrigeration, a freezer drawer, and a FlexZone™ drawer; $3,699 from Samsung.
Above: At just five inches wide, the CitiZ is well suited to urban domiciles. Designed by Antoine Cahen and made in Switzerland, the CitiZ Espresso Machine is available in silver (shown), cream, or red; $239.99 at Amazon.
Above: The Samsung Smart Washer features an 8-Inch LCD Touch Screen and allows you to control and monitor your washer using your smartphone. The washer's SpeedSpray™ function saves up to 90 minutes on an average week's load of laundry and thoroughly washes large loads with PowerFoam™ technology. With 4.5 cubic feet capacity, the washer is available in Onyx for $1,799 from Samsung.
Above: iRobot's vacuum cleaning robots pick up dirt, dust, and pet hair; allow you to program cleaning while you're out of the house; and the robot's HEPA filter refreshes air with each use; the Roomba 760 Vacuum is $499 from Amazon; or £399 from iRobot in the UK.
Above: Ideal for last-minute plate warming at your next dinner party: Miele's Europa Clean-Touch Steel 30-Inch Convection Warming Drawer (ESW 4816) is engineered to hold up to 30 pounds while fully extended. It also has a removable anti-slip silicone pad to keep plates from sliding around and heats from 104 to 185 degrees; $1,345 at AJ Madison.
Short on space? Here are five kitchen tools with a small imprint (they also reinforce the idea that not all kitchen implements need to be plastic).
Above: The Multi-Purpose Cookset 1 from Japanese company Snow Peak is a heavy-duty cook set including pots, a colander, and a frying pan (the entire set can be stacked). Originally designed for campers (but we can see it working well in a studio apartment), the entire set is $169.95.
Above: Handcrafted wooden Whale Tongs from Design House Stockholm feature a magnetic hinge that make them easy to take apart to clean (and to store); they can be used both as tongs and salad servers; $50 from Lumens.
Above: Kyocera's ceramic knives are smaller and lighter than traditional knives; the White Ceramic Knife is $59.95 from Cooking.com
Above: This Propeller Trivet folds to a tube shape and is easily stored in a drawer; $20 from Luminaire.
Above: The Five Piece Bamboo Utensil Set can be easily stacked in a drawer: $19.95 from Crate and Barrel. Made from organic bamboo, the set includes cooking spoons, two turners, and one slotted spoon.
N.B. Are you a small space dweller? See 1,401 images of Small Space Living in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 28, 2012.
A roundup of ingenious kitchen spaces—some no larger than a closet—that are minuscule yet functional.
Above: A tiny kitchen by Mesh Architectures occupies a nook in a 300-square-foot art dealer's studio. The high-mounted oven includes a space saving feature where the bottom drops down for you to insert the food then retracts back up into the heat. See: Remodelista's Favorite Space Saving Appliances for Small Kitchens.
Above: A galley kitchen in London by Mlinaric, Henry & Zervudachi featuring walls of framed photographs and—ingeniously—kitchen implements either hung from hooks or mounted directly on the wall for immediate access.
Above: A compact kitchen tucked under a stairwell in the Broome Street loft project by Loading Dock 5 Architecture in New York. Photo by Sophie Munro.
Above: A tiny kitchen in a revamped carriage house in Oakland by SF architect Christi Azevedo.
Above: A kitchen in an East Village studio apartment of NYC by Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture.
Above: A minimal kitchen space made with reclaimed wood in a West Broadway loft by Ryall Porter Sheridan Architect.
Above: The Studiomama Beach Chalet on the coast of England.
Above: Two kitchens via The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
Above: A tiny cottage kitchen in Helsinki, photo by Andreas Meichsner for the New York Times.
N.B.: For more kitchen inspiration, see 1125 images of Kitchens in our Gallery of rooms and spaces. This post is an update; the original ran on November 4, 2010.
Rumor has it that industrial design-rock star Yves Behar is working on a design-worthy smoke alarm. In the meantime, we embarked on a search for attractive alternatives to the ubiquitous smoke alarm.
Above: Kupu Photoelectric Smoke Alarm by Finnish designer Harri Koskinen for Jalo Helsinki has a soft fabric cover and is affixed to the wall or ceiling surface with 3M tape (no need for screws or a power drill). There are no tiny push buttons, rather the whole external casing acts as a press switch for silencing false alarms and testing the performance of the product. Battery powered (no hardwiring, which means it can be used in countries with different electric voltage); €24.90 at the Finnish Design Shop.
Above: Winner of the 2011 Red Dot Design Award, the Kupu Photoelectric Smoke Alarm is available in white, green, gray and pink.
Above: Slated to come on the market in 2013, the Modern Smoke Detector by Architectural Devices is designed to lay recessed and nearly flush-mounted into the gypsum board of a wall or ceiling to blend in seamlessly. It runs on a 9-volt battery and can be linked to up to 12 other detectors. It will be retail for around $199. Contact Architectural Devices for further information.
Above: The Kidde Silhouette Low-Profile Smoke Alarm protrudes a mere half inch from the ceiling once installed. It contains a rechargeable battery that runs off central electricity and lasts the lifetime of the unit. Hardwiring required; $13.95 at Amazon.
Above: The Gira Smoke Alarm is an advanced heat and smoke detector that won the 2010 Red Dot award for product design; £40.01 for the battery operated unit through Gira UK. Not yet available in the US.
Above: Designed for a child's room (and inspired by the American Black-capped Chickadee bird), the battery-operated Chick-A-Dee Smoke Alarm by Dutch designer Louise van der Veld is $75 in black or white at the A+R Store in Los Angeles.
Neatly tied or left frayed at the ends, a good piece of rope can add an unexpected touch to dressers, bureaus, even doors.
Here are five ideas, easily emulated.
Above: Spotted in the interior of Folk in Munich: knotted marine rope used as drawer pulls. A good online source of marine rope is Knot & Rope Supply, which carries a wide selection in a variety of colors.
Above: Our friend Tricia Rose (creator of Rough Linen) has a nautical theme going on in her home: To spruce up some drawers, she threaded rope through four drilled holes.
Above: Sub out less-desirable drawer handles with this Pliant Rope Handle by Sibella Court for Anthropologie; $12.
Above: A rustic door handle, which we covered previously in Steal This Look: Vintage Bath from Country Living Magazine.
Above: Another good application for nautical knots besides the high seas: a rope-pull; via Kojo Designs.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 1, 2012.
There's still life in the dip-dyed trend: here are five products spotted recently we find ourselves coveting.
Above: New from Anthropologie, the Submergent Ladder from Lostine is made of oak with a dark stain; $348.
Above: Wicker lamps dip-dyed in indigo, via The Andes House.
Above: V-Room Face Towel in navy: $198 from Lost & Found.
Above: The willow Color Block Utility Basket is available in three sizes at Terrain; prices start at $98 for the small size.
Above: A set of four teak Two-Tone Wood Spoons is $18.
Forget the ice and the rock salt; it's easier than ever to churn a batch of homemade ice cream with a new wave of fully automatic ice cream makers.
Automatic ice cream makers fall into two categories: those with built-in refrigerator compressors and those with pre-freeze bowls. The compressor ice cream makers have built-in refrigeration units that enable you to churn ice cream with no advance chilling of the parts or the mix. They are fast (usually 30 minutes or less) and can make multiple batches. The cost of convenience is the weight; many of the compressor machines approach 40 pounds. The pre-freeze models are more affordable, but require the bowl (insulated with a special liquid to create even freezing) to be frozen before use; multiple batches require multiple frozen bowls. Traditionalists need not fret, hand churn makers are still available.
REFRIGERATOR COMPRESSOR MODELS
Above: Leave it to the Italians to create the elegant Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker with all-stainless steel construction. Fully automatic and timer controlled, the machine shuts off automatically when the ice cream becomes too hard. Comes with a 1.5 quart bowl and a one-year warranty; $693.57 at Amazon.
Above: The Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker has a 1.5-quart bowl and LCD touchpad display. Creates ice cream in approximately 60 minutes. Reviewed well for results but is said to be louder than other makes; $299 at Sur La Table.
Above: The DeLonghi GM6000 Gelato Maker gets high marks and is known to be especially quiet. The bowl, paddle, and lid are dishwasher safe; $247.99 at Amazon.
PRE-FREEZE BOWL MODELS
Above: The Cuisinart Stainless-Steel Ice Cream Maker is a simple pre-freeze cannister model with a generous two-quart capacity; $89.95 at Williams-Sonoma.
Above: The Cuisinart Classic Ice Cream Maker with Extra Freezer Bowl offers simple one-switch operation and a 1.5-quart capacity; $89.95 at Williams-Sonoma. The Cuisinart Classic Ice Cream Maker is available in several colors for $59.95 at Sur La Table.
Above: Turn your KitchenAid mixer into an ice cream maker with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment. The double-insulated bowl has a 2-quart capacity and requires 24-hour pre-freezing; $79.95 at Williams-Sonoma.
Above: White Mountain Appalachian Series Hand-Crank Ice Cream Maker features a wooden bucket, stainless steel cannister with lid, and a cast iron dasher (paddle); $179.99 for the 4-quart size at Amazon.
Above: Get inspired with recipes from San Francisco Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones; $14.98 at Amazon. Note to San Francisco ice cream lovers, Bi-Rite Creamery is opening a second location in NOPA soon.
Are outdoor kitchens the new outdoor bathtubs? Another out-of-reach fantasy for those of us who live in colder climes?
There is something wonderfully irreverent about carrying out one of life's daily activities without a roof over your head; here's a roundup of five outdoor culinary spaces in climates ranging from near-tropical to Northern European.
Above: LA design collective Commune created this pergola-like outdoor kitchen in a remodel of a Buff & Hensman house in Nichols Canyon. (N.B. For more information, see Commune in Nichols Canyon, LA.) Photography by Richard Powers.
Above: A minimal outdoor kitchen in a Maine cabin, courtesy of Justine at Design Skool.
Above: Made of separate components, the WWOO kitchen by Dutch designer Piet Jan van den Kommer offers ultimate flexibility; for more on the WWOO kitchen, see The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen. Image via vtwonen.
Above: During apple and plum picking season, the outdoor kitchen at Villa Else in the middle of Søllerød Nature Reserve in Denmark gets used for making preserves. Photograph by Stuart McIntyre via KML Design.
Above: Colorful chairs adorn the tables in this outdoor communal kitchen in the eco-resort at Onar on the Greek island of Andros (see more at Stealth Luxury on a Greek Island). Photograph by Christine Chang Hanway.
For more outdoor kitchens, see "Outdoor Kitchens from a Dutch Designer."
N.B. Looking for more outdoor inspiration? See 713 images of the Outdoors in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.
Rainy days take on new meaning when your children can literally climb the walls. Here are five ingenious walls we think could keep multiple family members happy, busy and fit.
Above: Japanese design firm Nendo constructed a climbing wall using an eclectic mix of baroque picture frames, mirrors, deer heads, bird cages, and flower vases in Omotesando, an upscale shopping center in Tokyo. Image via My Modern Met.
Above: The climbing wall in a child's room in New York also adds colorful accents to the room. Image via AlignedNYC.
Above: Shades of Green Landscape Architecture incorporated a climbing wall into the garden wall. Image via Houzz.
N.B. See 10 Radical Staircases for Tight Spaces for more climbing inspiration.
Branches are a quick and easy decor fix and add instant rustic charm to a child's room; here are five examples we like.
N.B.: Smaller branches can be anchored in a pot with stones; for larger ones, attach hooks to a wall or ceiling and use clear fishing line to attach.
Above: Colored pom poms decorate a branch in the home of the French stylist Aurélie Lécuyer of the blog Le Dans La.
Above: A branch serves as clothes rack from textile maker Olli.
Above: Jess Brown (creator of her eponymous Rag Dolls as well as a new line of women's clothing) created this room for her daughter Stella, using a salvaged tree trunk as bed canopy.
Above: A mobile made from a hanging branch. Photograph via The Boo and the Boy.
Above: A children's nursery in Australia spotted on Apartment Therapy.
N.B. For more of our Five Quick Fixes, click here.
While the aim of an off-the-kitchen utility space might draw from a rustic sentiment, its fundamental purpose is domestic efficiency. So whether you're an urbanite or a rural dweller, space and energy saving appliances are first on the list. Here are five quick fixes for a laundry room with the right balance.
Above: For small-space living, wall storage is ideal for hanging towels and brushes. The metal Rack of Hooks is $49 NZD from Father Rabbit in New Zealand.
Above: The Samsung High Efficiency Washer (WA456) features a king-sized capacity of 4.5 cubic feet, and with its Vibration Reduction Technology™, noise is significantly reduced—making it quiet enough to install on the second floor or near bedrooms. The washer is available in White (shown) for $949.99 or Stainless Platinum for $1,049.99 from Samsung.
Above: The willow Color Block Utility Basket is available in three sizes at Terrain; prices start at $98 for the small size.
Above: The Asko Hidden Helper Ironing Board is an ingenious add-on and even features a plug for your iron.
Above: The rustic, height-adjustable drying rack from Sheila Made Clothes Airer facilitates indoor drying in small spaces and cuts down on energy use; $135 from Ancient Industries.
Industrial carts with casters, repurposed as bar carts, add an edge to a very sophisticated proposition. Here are five that will create an instant party vibe wherever you take them.
Above: An industrial cart from the 1930s is available at Modern 50; $885.
Above: Industrial wood and metal rolling carts can be found on eBay. Single drawer metal card files are useful for storing bar accessories and can be found on eBay as well. Image via Because I'm Addicted.
Above: A wood utility cart has a third shelf which is useful for storage. A modern version that can be painted, stained, or left unfinished is available at Williams-Sonoma; $159.95. Image via Because I'm Addicted.
Above: Vintage wood crates can be stacked on a wood dolly to create a bar cart with character. Hardwood dollies are available at Global for $28.95 to $43.95, depending on size. Vintage wood crates can be found on Etsy. Image via Flickr.
N.B. Thinking of introducing some industrial shelving into your home? See 537 images of Industrial Shelves in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.
Here's a genius use for sliding barn doors in the kitchen: as pantry cupboard doors. Here are five good inspiration examples.
Above: A kitchen pantry in Sweden, concealed by a sliding barn door, via Basic Lab.
Above: At Hendy's Home Store Kitchen in Hastings a sliding barn door opens onto the kitchen.
Above: A kitchen outside Philadelphia with a sliding pantry door, via Cote de Texas.
Above: A pantry concealed behind farm-style sliding barn doors in Chicago by Rebekah Zaveloff.
Above: With a simple Shaker sensibility, this sliding barn door divides the dining and play spaces at the Seesaw Cafe in San Francisco.
N.B. See our gallery of Sliding Doors.
The classic German biergarten table is more versatile than you think: it functions as a desk, a craft table, and as a dining table for narrow apartment spaces. Here are five smart ways to use an outdoor table indoors (plus sourcing ideas).
Where can you buy a biergarten table? Oktobefest Haus offers an authentic Biergarten Folding Wood Table and Bench Set for $549. Sausalito, CA-based Roost offers a Biergarten Table with Benches for $662.50 via Aldea Home.
Above: An antique biergarten table in the Brooklyn apartment of director/photography Poppy de Villeneuve. Photograph by Sam Horine for Refinery29.
Above: A German beer table is used in an indoor/outdoor living space from Shareen Joel Design.
Above: London shop owner Amanda Cox uses a painted beer garden table as a desk; see more at Secrets of an Urban Sleuth, London Edition.
Above: Justine Glanfield, a designer at Cotton and Milk, uses a traditional beer table in her son's arts and crafts area; photograph via Milk Magazine.
It makes so much sense: kitchens concealed behind accordion doors, sliding doors, cabinet doors; anything it takes to keep the clutter out of sight when space is tight. Here are five we've been admiring recently.
Above: A minimalist kitchen in an apartment in Cadaques, Spain, designed by Fracesc Rife Studio.
Above: All appliances are concealed behind full-length oak cabinet doors in this kitchen by Danish company Kobenhavns Mobelsnedkeri.
Above: Kitchen appliances and necessities are hidden behind a series of doors in this apartment in Australia by Jason Gibney of Tobias Partners.
If you're like us, and you tend to do things at the very last minute, here are some ideas for spur-of-the moment decor; all that's required is a can of black matte spray paint.
Above: A pumpkin spray painted with black matte paint, via Sweet Paul.
Above: Wine bottles (corks included) painted matte black; image via Curbly.
Above: A stag chandelier painted black; photo via Flickr.
Above: A row of ladles painted black holds a row of votive candles.
Above: A jar painted matte black makes an instant Goth candleholder; image via Pure and Noble.
Above: Barnes Black Resin Buffalo/Bison Skull; $64.99 from White Faux Taxidermy on Etsy.
Some of our favorite interior spaces feature birds perched in unlikely spots (above a dining table, in a stairwell, or soaring overhead in a hallway). Here are five spaces enlivened by an avian presence:
Above: Birds in flight in designer Tanja Janicke's home in Helsinki, Finland; images via Bolig Magasinet.
We've admired the humble plumbing pipe reimagined as storage rails ever since we spotted designers Roman and Williams using the industrial piping in the bathrooms of the Ace Hotels. Indestructible plumbing pipe is perfect for hanging towels, curtains, kitchen pots, or the coats and bags that can overwhelm an entry.
Above: The bathrooms at the Ace Hotels in Portland, New York and Palm Springs incorporate bath hooks, towel bars, and toilet roll holders made by Roman and Williams from powder-coated plumbing pipe.
Above: The 18-Inch Plumbing Pipe Storage Bar can be used as a towel bar with or without hooks (the set of Vintage French Butcher Hooks is $60). Made with recycled 1/2-inch diameter steel plumbing pipe and fittings that are hand finished with an ebonized rust patina with a moisture-resistant protective satin clear-coat finish; $135 from Flea Market Rx.
Above: Flea Market Rx offers the vintage plumbing pipe bars in a variety of lengths, including the 24-Inch Plumbing Pipe Storage Bar shown here working as an entry coat rack; $140.
Above: West Elm's Industrial Pipe Curtain Rods are available in rubbed iron or brushed nickel finishes. Offered in two adjustable sizes: 22 to 48 inches and 44 to 108 inches; $69 and $99 respectively.
Explore more images of Industrial Spaces in our Gallery.
Take note: the rainy season is well upon us in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. To divert runoff and collect rainwater for irrigation and livestock, here are five attractive solutions:
Above: A modular system includes the Buttonwood Wood Slat System (contact Shift directly for ordering information) and the Fitzwater Raintank ($1,800) and Pennsgrove Planter ($910); both available at Horne. For more, see "Minimalist Garden Products with a Mission."
Above: The Sheet Steel Rain Barrel is made from galvanized and powder-coated green sheet steel. The rainwater barrel features a brass tap with a hose fitting and has a capacity of about 40 gallons of water; €428 from Manufactum.
Above: The Exaco Trading Wooden Rain Barrel is made in Canada from FSC-certified spruce wood with a brass tap; $277.19 from Amazon.
Above: For a serious DIY project, see instructions for this rain barrel made from a 55-gallon metal malt drum via Forgotten Skills.
Above: The Square Rain Barrel is made from long-lasting, heat-treated spruce wood that will repel termites; $239.95 from Sur La Table.
N.B.: Looking for more garden solutions? See nine other posts on 5 Quick Fixes.
A quick (and inexpensive) way to add character to an otherwise austere space: plywood-faced ceilings. Here are five we like:
Above: A photo from the Dwell House Tour, via Morgan Satterfield's The Brick House.
Above: The Catskills kitchen of Jeff Madalena and Jason Gnewikow, via Design Crisis.
Above: A house in the Hamptons by Selldorf Architects.
Above: A modern kitchen in Massachusetts with plywood ceilings by Burr & McCallum.
As the holiday season looms, here are five easy ways to decorate in a seasonally appropriate way: using dried foliage.
Even though I live in California, it seems counterintuitive to accent the house with fresh flowers during the winter season (especially when there are so many lovely alternatives). Here is a roundup of some inspirational spaces that make use of leaves and branches, for arrangements that can work year-round.
Above: Dried ferns and flora taped to the wall create an instant decorative tableau, via Pia Jane Bijkerk.
Above: Branches of dried leaves hang in the hallway of Pensao Favorita, which we covered previously in Hotels, Lodging & Restaurants: Pensao Favorita in Portugal.
Above: Australian-based artist Tiel Seivl-Keever's collection of local foliage, from The Design Files.
Above: Dried branches as decor; photo by Simon Bevan.
Above: A bough suspended above the dining room at the Lloyd Hotel, which we wrote about in Hotels, Lodging & Restaurants: Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam.
Above: Silver-dollar eucalyptus displayed to great effect against a white wall, via Cupcakes and Cashmere.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on December 5, 2012.
Summer is a distant memory, but these interiors featuring bright yellow lamp shades help us remember what the sun looks like.
Above: A cheerful bedside lamp in an interior by LA-based Reath Design.
Above: A dark lamp shade lined in yellow in an interior by Parisian designer Sarah Lavoine.
Create your own indoor winter wonderland with our five favorite paper ornaments:
Above: Create a festive note with the 11 feet long Gold Paper Garland, made in France, $35 from Alder & Co.
Above: Make your own ornaments with pre-cut sheets of gold and silver shapes from Berlin design company, Kolor; €6.90 for two sheets. For more information, contact Kolor.
Above: Fold your own origami lanterns to pop over the bulbs on your string lights with this DIY tutorial from Wit & Whistle, or purchase them premade from Etsy; $32.00 for a set of 50. Image via With & Whistle.
Above: Spotted on Annaleena's Hem, white tissue paper honeycomb balls remind us of snow balls (without the melting); $1.29 for 8-inch ball and $1.79 for 12-inch ball through Amazon; £5.00 for 30-cm ball from Not on the High Street.
Above: These Washi Paper Snowflakes from Japan attach to windows and mirrors with a little water sprayed on them. Can be reused up to five times; £10 for a package of either one large and one small or 5 small from Nonesuch Things.
N.B. Looking for other ornament ideas? See 19 back posts of Ornaments.
It's not that we Design Dictators are controlling or anything: It's just that we're convinced that the best toys for going the distance are the ones we want to play with as well. Here are five favorites from around the world.
Above: Fort Standard's Balancing Blocks are Bauhaus Inspired and made from repurposed scrap wood. The ultimate purist amongst you design dictators can have them in all white but we're relaxed on this one; $48, Areaware.
Above: It's never too early to introduce your children to the joys of design. When my eldest was two, he was so inspired by an architecture picture book we read together that he named his baby brother Colm (column). Draw Me a House by Thibaud Herem is an interactive coloring book that will inspire everyone to become interested in their built environment; $13.60, amazon.com; £11.66, amazon.co.uk.
Above: Fionn the Fox, Liam the Hare and Brigid the Sheep, a trio of hand-knitted and friendly animals from Irish designer/knitter Claire-Anne O'Brien in collaboration with the fabulous Irish brothers' duo Makers & Brothers; €62 to €68.
Above: Based on his observations, designer Doshi Levien noticed that toys with the greatest staying power are the ones where "children apply their imaginations onto found objects already in the home and thus begat the "Rocker"; an 'improvised ride" on a found object; see Richard Lampert for more information.
N.B.: To make sure we've got everyone on your list covered, see all of our gift guides to date in our House Gifts section.
Old doors as decor? We've been noticing repurposed vintage doors used in a variety of ways; here are five examples we like:
Above: A wall paneled in reclaimed doors via the master of reclamation Piet Hein Eek.
Above: A table made from a reclaimed door with a rope-wrapped base; via Woodnote Photography.
Above: A table made from a vintage door, with metal fasteners intact; via Fork and Flower.
Above: Vintage doors make an impromptu headboard; photo via Hus & Hem.
If you are a book lover and owner (like my husband, who collects fly-fishing tomes), you are, by default, a conservator. Here are five tools we use at home to protect our library.
For more ideas, see How to Protect Your Books at the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. And if you have any genius tips, let us know in the comments section.
• A hygrometer (shown above) is used to detect levels of humidity. My husband bought his from a cigar store in Chicago and strives for the opposite range of moisture that cigars enjoy. Cigars like humidity (think Miami, FL, at 65 percent), while books love low humidity levels, in the 30 to 40 percent range. Less than 20 percent humidity causes paper to become brittle and susceptible to cracking. Rule of thumb: if you are comfortable, your books are as well. A similar looking Analog Hygrometer is available for $11.79 from Amazon.
• Keep your books dust-free with Lambswool Dusters made by the Wool Shop in Missouri, which come in three sizes, from $5 to $12, at West Elm.
• Bone Paper Holders are used to apply pressure and crease the corners over dust jackets. This authentic knife-like device is indeed made of bone, but is now also alternatively available made from Teflon; depending on size, they start at $6.60 from Blick.
• Books like a stable temperature (ideally, between 65 and 70 degrees Farenheit); during our recent remodel, we installed the Nest Learning Thermostat, which automatically adjusts your home’s temperature ($249 at the company's online store).
Here are our latest additions in our long-running obsession with loo roll holders.
Above: Add a dash of color to the bathroom with the Diabolo Holder, a simple rope and metal hub inspired by sailing equipment and designed by London-based Yang:Ripol Design Studio for Vandiss. Also available in black rope with a chrome hub, both available soon at GSelect.
Above: One of my favorites to date, the Concrete Toilet Paper Holder with birch handle by Swedish designer Lovisa Wattman; CA $65 from Mjolk.
Above: Josh Owen's Hanging Line is comprised of a silicon band with a magnetic catch. Available in Ferrari Red, shown above, and Matte Black and Porcelain White. The Toilet Paper Hanging Line is $19 from Kontextur.
Above: Spotted in this Swedish bathroom on Stadshem, a hanging string bag that accommodates plenty of rolls, a useful solution in a small space. The Ecobag String Bag is available for $9.99 from Green Living.
It's the littlest ones who need the most assistance, and make the most mess in the bath. Here are six solutions for the children's bathroom to keep them safe and clean.
Above: A sink with a built-in step designed by Vincent Van Duysen via Marie Claire Maison.
Above: Two wall hooks in the shape of mounted deer are fixed between the children's sinks; below are two hampers for hiding linens and clothing. Photograph of a home in Denmark by Bjarne B. Jacobson for Bolig Magazine.
Above: A green lacquered vanity unit handles wear and tear well in the children's bath of a North London home from Living Etc.
Above: A tiny silver bells allows for children to ring for assistance; in the guest bathroom of Swedish shop owner, Julia, from Swedish Guest Bathroom Under the Stairs.
Above: A crate used as a step stool for getting in and out of the bathtub at the Ace Hotel from Bath: Black Tub Roundup.
Is there anything burlap can't do? It can cover windows, skylights, serve as a table runner, divide a room, and more. Here are five spaces that make clever use of this humble material.
Above: A handmade burlap curtain in a room designed by Sibella Court.
Above: Burlap serves as a skylight cover in this room featuring White Bookshelf Wallpaper designed by Young & Battaglia.
Above: Burlap curtains serve as room dividers in Scott Newkirk's Brooklyn flat.
Above: A painted burlap table runner by Radical Possibility.
I hate cords. Even the word "cords" is ugly. Yet they were everywhere in my life, snaking across the floor, tangled under my desk, draped over the nightstand, twining themselves around the headboard and conspiring to strangle me as I slept. I tried to corral them with twist ties, cord-wrapper hubs, plastic cord-tamer shoe boxes. But nothing worked—until I discovered five foolproof ways to put them in their place.
It started with a remodel. One day, while my designer friend Stephanie Dorfman was sitting at her kitchen table sketching new cabinets for my house, I started telling her about the bad dream I'd had the previous night. "All the computer cords and cell phone chargers were wrapped around my ankles, and there was an evil enchanted power strip, and it said, 'Can you hear the lambs screaming, Michelle?'"
Stephanie looked up from her drawing. "Don't worry, we can hide every cord in your house," she said. "They'll never be able to hurt you again."
Sure enough, Stephanie designed clever cabinetry—for the home office, the TV room, and the master bedroom—with more secret compartments and hidden trap doors than a Vegas magician. You cannot see one single cord in the whole house. But the beauty of her system is this: you don't need to remodel your house to hide your cords. Here are some Penn & Teller tricks that will work for you.
Photographs by Michelle Slatalla.
Above: The home office, where both my husband and I work, is a glorified alcove off the living room; from the front hallway, you can see straight through the house to our desks. So it was imperative that every ugly cord, charger, power strip, cable modem, and random electronic gadget be invisible. Can you spot the printer?
Above: Stephanie Dorfman's design for the house involved false walls, pullout drawers, hidden electrical outlets, and vented doors (to prevent electronic components from overheating). In the office, the two desks and a long wall of low cabinets form a horseshoe shape.
Above: Behind the U-shaped countertop is a dropped ledge; it's 3 inches lower than the height of the countertop. On the ledge behind each of the two desks is a hole, big enough for all the cords to fit. The computer cords, the phone cords, the camera cord, even the cord from the electric pencil sharpener—they all disappear into that hole, positioned behind the pedestal of my computer monitor.
Above: There's a false wall behind each desk. The cords drop behind the two-paneled false wall and are plugged into power strips that sit, hidden, on the floor behind.
Of course, you don't need to install built-in cabinetry to get the same look. Stephanie suggests this simple method:
Secret No. 1: Build a false wall.
Here's how. First make a desk, creating a base with two file cabinets such as White File Cabinets ($159 apiece from CB2) as a support for a desk top. For the desk top use a wooden door or other piece of solid wood that measures from 1.5 inches to 3 inches deep and has a 6-inch overhang when placed atop the file cabinets. For instance, if your file cabinets are 19.5 inches deep, the desktop should be 25.5 inches deep.
Position the desktop on the file cabinets to create a 1-inch overhang on the front and a 5-inch overhang on the back of the file cabinets.
Next, buy a piece of 3/8-inch-thick plywood and cut it to cover the opening below the desktop. Screw the plywood into the back of the file cabinets and paint the front of the plywood—the side facing into the room—the same color as the wall behind it. Now you have a false wall.
Above: Cords are gathered together, then threaded through the top of the ledge on the back of my desk.
Secret No. 2: Cut a hole in your desktop to make cords disappear.
Cut a 3.5-inch round hole in the back overhang. Attach a White Round Plastic Desk Grommet with Cover; $6.60 from Cable Organizer.
Secret No. 3: Don't stint on the power strips. Behind the false wall under my desk are two Belkin 6-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protectors ($6.33 apiece from Amazon). Get two, even if you think one is enough, because there is always going to be something else you'll want to add in the future—a desk lamp, say—to the jungle of cords in your office. Also, it's easier to keep the cords from tangling or knotting if each one has some "air space" around it on the surge protector.
Above: Printers are very ugly. And bulky. I never want to see one again. The wall of drawers in my office includes a double-deep drawer in the middle. That's where my printer lurks.
Secret No. 4: Buy a wireless printer such as an Epson Workforce 545 All-in-One Printer ($152 from Amazon). A wireless printer eliminates the need to run a cord between it and your computer. Getting rid of even one cord feels so sweet. Put your printer inside a drawer and install an electrical outlet inside the drawer. Plug in the printer and never again see its cord.
Above: My printer is on a sliding shelf inside the drawer. When the drawer opens, the printer rolls back, creating enough space for copies to come out the front.
Secret No. 5: Put your printer on a rolling shelf to make it easier to add paper, remove copies, and operate the controls. Sources for a wide selection of different sizes and types of glide-out shelves include Shelf Genie, Hafele, and Rev-a-Shelf.
Above: All that's left on my desk: some Spanish bluebells from the garden.
I don't have anything against the idea of TV; in fact I consider TV to be the new novel. When I power-watch three or four—OK, five—episodes, I get the same woozy, drugged-out high as from being lost in a book. What I hate is how a TV looks, a black hole on the wall trying to suck light out of a whole universe. Plus, it has ugly sidekicks skulking around: modems, woofers, blink-y black boxes, and cords. Here's how to fix those problems:
But first: how did I come own an enormous flat screen TV in the first place? The usual way. My husband tricked me into it.
About three years ago, we moved across the country and my husband, arriving in New York City a few weeks ahead of me, took advantage of my absence to rush out to a harshly lit electronics store on Broadway to buy the biggest TV he could find—possibly the largest one in existence at that time. I got to town to find it propped on cinder blocks in the otherwise unfurnished living room of our apartment, with about a billion black snaky cords spilling out and attaching it to a life support system of bizarrely pulsating blink-y box things. "Isn't it beautiful?" my husband asked.
Of course I wanted to get rid of it. I mean, I haven't even known how to turn on a TV since the advent of those remote control things, much less how to change a channel (are they still called channels?). But then the weather turned cold and gray, and I got sucked into watching episode after episode of Downton Abbey or Mad Men or Grey's Anatomy. (This is a much more instantaneous way to entertain oneself in New York, by the way, than bundling up in a coat and boots and scarf and gloves and going into the hall to wait for the creaky old elevator; riding slo-o-o-wly down nine flights with the neighbors who you don't know and their dog; walking to the subway; breathing through your mouth to avoid the bad underground smell while waiting for a train, and then riding it somewhere to do something.)
By the time I moved back to California and remodeled my house a year ago, the TV was my friend. I wanted to find a way to keep it in my life without ruining the beauty of the new, no-cinder-block decor of my house. This is where my friend Stephanie Dorfman, a designer and certified cord removal specialist, stepped into the picture.
Photographs by Michelle Slatalla.
Above: Do you feel this the biggest TV you have ever seen? No? Good. It's an optical illusion.
Secret No. 1: To minimize the TV's hulk-iness, Stephanie surrounded it with deep bookshelves. The screen sits flush with the front of the shelves, making the TV seem barely three-dimensional and no more obtrusive than, say, a chalkboard.
Secret No. 2: The TV is surrounded by a generously sized (it's 5 inches wide) frame with a beveled edge, like a picture frame, further diminishing the screen. (The frame is attached by magnets and pops off so my husband can rummage around behind it with cords, etc.).
Secret No. 3: Notice how the whole wall—shelves, cabinetry, frame—is painted a single neutral, light color. This further downplays the TV, which is mounted on an arm against a false wall that's shallower than the wall behind the surrounding bookshelves; cords attached to the TV drop behind it into the cabinets below.
Dealing with TVs is one of those design dilemmas that never goes away. In other words, the size and shape of TVs change but they still look bad—just in new, bad ways. In my grandparents' house, an entire corner of the living room was a no-man's-zone given over to an old-fashioned TV cabinet from the Pleistocene Era; the set hadn't worked for years but there was no move to get rid of it (in those days, furniture was a life sentence; the prehistoric sofa had lace doilies sewn over bare patches on the arms). You knew to avoid the TV cabinet corner if you were playing hide-and-seek because it had sharp corners to jab you as you tried to slip past the person who was "It" without being tagged.
Then came Armoire Armageddon. In the 1990s, TV sets still were about three feet deep, and I was one of those people who bought into the "let's-get-an-armoire-to hide-the-TV" craze. Flash forward 20 years, with flat screens everywhere and all these hulking, superfluous armoire things taking up space in living rooms across America. I gave mine away—overnight, it seemed, its value had dropped from the $800 I'd paid for it to $0—and still feel lucky that someone would take it. Given the number of TV armoires that are still out there, lurking in corners of living rooms, I expect that eventually we'll see them littering highways like discarded mattresses.
Secret No. 4: Put all that horrible TV-related stuff inside cabinets, and put vented doors on the front so the electronics don't overheat. Beneath the TV, Stephanie designed doors with Octagon Cane Decorative Perforated Metal. For more information on perforated metal patterns, see Direct Metals.
See where the cords drop down from the TV above?
Secret No. 5: Put all the electronic components on pull-out drawers so it's easy to get to the cords at the back. Our TV is attached to a receiver that's connected to a set of five surround sound speakers including a subwoofer the size of a dorm refrigerator; a router; a Blu-Ray DVD player; a Sonos hi-fi system bridge, and an Apple TV. I don't know what any of these things are—my husband insisted we "needed" them—but I am happy I cannot see them. They live inside these cabinets.
There is a messy tangle of cords attendant to any entertainment center setup; I put a few books on the bottom shelf to hide the cords (and the power strip to which they are attached).
Secret No. 6: Let your furniture help you hide the cords. At my house, the power strip hides between two pieces of my sectional sofa.
In the family room, we lounge around a lot on the sectional with our computers (sometimes while simultaneously watching TV—sick, I know). Where the two pieces of my sectional meet, a power strip lurks beneath on the floor. You can pull up a cell phone charger, an iPad cord, possibly even the charger to my husband's electric shaver. There's a lot hidden under the cushions.
Above: From a distance you would never know a tangle of nasty wire is attached to the power strip that sits beneath the sectional. The whole spaghetti-bowl mess is tucked between the cushions of the sofa, and we fish out the appropriate cord when we need it. Cost: $8.99 (for a Belkin 6-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector from Amazon).
If you don't have a sectional, you still may be able to accomplish this neat trick. Simply attach your power cords to a power strip that sits on the floor behind the sofa, and thread the cords up through cushions or unobtrusively up the side of an arm.
Secret No. 7: Maintain some electronics-free zones in the family room. On my bookshelves are, well, books. And plants. Can't you just feel all that oxygen coursing into the room? Empty white space is a design element that makes the area around the TV set feel more open and spacious.
And now? I still have a few episodes of House of Cards (the British version—I finished power watching Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright last week) to catch up on. Reminds me of Bleak House.
Emboldened to rid your life of all cords, once and for all? Miracles do exist. See 5 Ways to Banish Computer Cords From Your Home Office.
Confession: I am a reluctant composter. I know, I know. My impulse is to scrape the dinner plates into the sink, whirl the disposal, and be done with it. I do have a stainless compost bucket under the sink, but it's an awkward—and less-than-fragrant—arrangement. In my next life, I plan to incorporate an in-counter compost solution. And you? Do you keep a lidded pail on the counter? Tell us your techniques in the comments section.
Above: An integrated countertop compost portal. Photograph via Cultivate.
Above: Two pullout drawers—the top one has a cutting board and the one below holds both a garbage and a compost bin. Photograph via The Farm Chicks.
Above: A stainless steel bucket you can lift out and carry to the compost bin in the backyard. Photograph via Blanco.
Above: An in-counter removable bowl to collect scraps. Photograph via Studio Gorm.
Above: A DIY Compost Farm by Charlotte Dieckmann.
For more compost solutions, see Compost Like a Pro: Maven Bins Made in Vermont.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 29, 2013 as part of our Belgium and Beyond issue.
There’s little you can’t make (or bake) with a 10-inch cast iron skillet, and if you look after it properly (season it regularly), cast iron cookware will last you a lifetime and beyond. Here are five favorites.
Above: A chef's dream: a row of variously sized cast iron skillet. Image via Brook Farm General Store.
Above: Vintage Griswold or Wagner cast iron skillets, the Rolls Royce of the cast iron world, can be found on eBay from $80 to $250.
Above: The 10-inch Lodge Logic Skillet is available through Amazon; $15.92.
Above: The 10-inch Camp Chef Cast Iron Skillet is available through Amazon; $17.99.
Above: The one drawback of the cast iron skillet is that its handle gets very hot. The Lodge Signature 10-Inch Cast Iron Skillet with Stainless Steel Handles offers a cooler handle option; available through Amazon, $57.39.
Above: At FeLion Studios, you can even have a cast iron skillet made in the shape of your homestate. See FeLion for more details.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 18, 2012.
The perfect summer picnic setting comes with a healthy mix of sun and shade, plus a bit of a breeze. To prevent your tablecloth from turning into a parachute, here are five handy table anchors some of which can be concocted on the spot.
Above: Keep outdoor tablecloths from flying away with a set of Four Metal Pegs of stainless steel; €7,20 from Manufactum in Germany. We first featured the pegs on Gardenista in Steal This Look: The Last Outdoor Dinner of the Season. Another option are Coleman's less heavy-duty but still effective set of six Tablecloth Clamps; $3.49.
Above: Take a tip from paint and color expert Eve Ashcraft and paint a set of rocks and shells natural objects in different colors and patterns. Use the rocks to hold down each corner of the tablecloth on the base.
Above: Alternatively, wrap twine or sisal around heavy stones and hang over the sides to weigh down the tablecloth. Seen on Lush Home.
Above: Enjoy sewing? Take the idea a step further and stitch four pockets into the corners of your tablecloth. Insert small weights to each, a project seen on Creations by Kara.
Above: The Martha Stewart approach is, not surprsingly, a bit more elaborate: she tidily anchors the tablecloth below the table with a few strategically placed grommets and a bungee cord.
To complete the experience, find the The Perfect Picnic Table on Gardenista. And consider making your own DIY: Natural Turmeric-Dyed Tablecloth. Then sift through some of our favorite ways to set the table presented in Gardenista's Photo Gallery.
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Gift wrapping is one of the easiest ways to personalize a gift. In Japan, the art is known as tsutsumi. In Kunio Ekiguchi's book Gift Wrapping: Creative Ideas from Japan, tsutsumi is described as the "gentle concealment" of the object: "Just as one helps a friend into a coat carefully and courteously, a gift should be wrapped tenderly and conscientiously." In that spirit, we offer up these simple but thoughtful ideas for presenting your present.
Above: A feather adds a flourish to a package discovered via Haus Press. Wrap with White Butcher Paper ($26.12 for a 200-foot roll on Amazon) and Gray Hemp Cord ($6.28 for a spool of 205 feet from Hemptique on Amazon), and attach a Kraft Paper Envelope ($6 for 25 at Jam Paper) and a feather from your nearest coop.
Above: Fresh fir and pine strike a holiday note; photographs via Sunday Suppers. Tie up a brown cardboard box with braided jute twine (Natural Twine is $9.42 for a 325-foot spool at Amazon), and tuck in cypress leaves or acacia florets.
Above: Paint splatter adds a little amusement to kraft paper. To personalize it, attach a Soft White Gift Tag (a pack of 50 is $3 from Etsy seller Prairie Dog Paper Co.) to black string (see below). Photograph by Molly Winters.
Above: Repurpose an old magazine or newspaper by using its pages as gift wrap. Use Shimmery Gold Washi Tape ($3.95 for a roll of 25 feet from PaperChase) and red berries to make it festive. Photograph by Erin Boyle for Reading My Tea Leaves.
Looking for gift ideas? Take a look at all our Holiday Gift Guides.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original ran in December 2011 as part of our Christmas Parties issue.
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Beyond the standard issue hose hanger; five practical and innovative ideas to detangle the garden hose and keep it off the ground.
Above: The galvanized Steel Hose Hanger from Swiss company Alba Krapf hangs on to any existing tap wall mounting, neatly solving the problem of where to stow the garden hose; €19 at Manufactum.
Above: Old wooden textile spools (found at antique shops and flea markets) bolted to a backyard fence create a hose hangar. Via Sunset.
Above: An industrial-strength steel bracket is bolted to a deck support beam for instant hose storage. Via Modern Cottage.
Above: This Galvanized Bucket bolted to the wall not only serves as a hose hanger, but also as a caddy for the sprinkler (or other gardening implements); $13.99 at Amazon. Go to Martha Stewart for instructions.
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Candlelight was the first—and for centuries, only—truly reliable source of flattering illumination at outdoor dinner parties. No more. Here are five up-to-date lanterns, all of which use high-efficiency LEDs to light things up.
Above: Molo Design's Hobo Lanterns owe their glow to light-emitting diodes (doesn't that sound so much more melodious than the acronym "LED"?) inside simple felt bags. With battery packs, they're portable. We'd like an assortment to light the patio this summer; $100 each.
Above: Un Sac de Lumière is a set of four white waxed paper bags and tea lights, all hung with a piece of wire; $16 each.
Above: The rechargeable Portable LED Lantern comes in two colors, white or amber; three levels of brightness can be controlled by touch. It's $79.99 at Mr. Light.
Above: The rechargeable Luau can be dimmed by twisting its base; $199.99 from Oxo.
Above: The battery-powered Soji Solar Lantern is white; a colored LED inside is responsible for the amber glow. We'd hang a cluster in a tree at the far edge of the garden.
Above: Ikea's solar-powered Solvinden Lantern ($14.99) uses the sun to recharge its built-in battery; after nine to twelve hours of sunlight, it will last for up to twelve hours.
(N.B.: Happily, the price has been cut to $17 since the last time we admired it.)
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 27, 2012.
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