Archive for the ‘Tudor Mansion’ Category

Hot and Cold

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Last night, as Daisy and Mrs. Patmore swirled into the modern world with the arrival of an electric mixer in their Downton kitchen, I myself took a step back.


Hurly said temperatures the next few days in certain spots in Minnesota were going to be colder than on Mars. He knows everything about almost everything, but I didn’t believe him until that moron that knows almost nothing about nothing (AKA Siri) proved him right. Last night Mars was -51 or something and this morning Bemidji had a windchill of about -52.


Friends in my Facebook feed have dubbed it the Freezepocalypse and so to ensure Hurly and I didn’t frostbite-the-bullet in our sleep, I filled up the German hot water bottle I received at Christmas and tucked the sunshiny little thing under our covers right before bedtime.


Battling the apocalypse-ish elements really isn’t so bad if you can do it in retro rubbered style.

Long Time No See

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

It was a long, hard fall. I meant to keep in touch. Show you the midnight blue sweater I’ve been over-wearing, or photos of how our bedroom makeover turned out. But the bedroom’s still essentially bed-less and I’m too scruffy for a blue sweater photo shoot. Maybe Christmas will set things back on an inspired and accomplished track. For now, here’s how I spent some of the past couple months:

Driving to a casino just to eat at the buffet. Photographing jello I didn’t eat, and not photographing things I did eat…

Buying boots that looked like Red Wings but were actually Clarks. One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to kick my addiction to white crepe soled shoes. Enough was enough a long time ago…

Glamming up pumpkins with silver and brass thumbtacks…

Receiving this flashcard from my oldest friend. I considered making it my Twitter icon for a while. Maybe someday I still will…

Learning it was David Bowie who invented that over-used broken-back supermodel pose. The world is good and ready for a new position.

Attempting to bring more texture and pattern into Tudor “Mansion”…

Designing demonic new characters with my niece on our Wii U. This is the latest in our proud tradition of carefully crafted freaky female toddlers. We gave her the chic new Anna Wintour-ish hairstyle Nintento added to the design palette, and finished her off with a five o’clock shadow – and then we named her Jill.

Trying to plan a perfect Christmas…

But settling for something else instead.

Playing in the very first snowfall with Hurly and the gang…

And almost buying Hanukkah flowers, even though I’m 1/00th Jewish.

What is everyone else doing and buying and wearing and loving?

Think Global, Shop Local

Monday, September 10th, 2012

I haven’t been out of the country in almost two years, but the home accessories I’ve found thrifting the past few weeks will help convince visitors otherwise.

Weathered Roman busts, Balinese brass and bamboo basket-bowls, crackled Chinese pots, and wooden Mongolian pipsqueak shoes are but some of the little treasures giving Tudor Mansion a sense of worldly beauty.

Although I never really left, it’s definitely good to be home.

Saltwater & Sun

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Sometimes I’ll find something potentially home-worthy somewhere surprising like your mom’s favorite store…

And then I’ll soak it in saltwater for a few hours, then set it out in the sun for a couple of weeks.

So that it fades, and cracks, and looks like it came from someplace a little more surprising than everyone’s moms’ favorite store. My Little Pony-horse Pal’s still got one week left of baking in the sun to do before he’s allowed on the shelves inside our house.

Let There Be Light

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

A month ago the bedroom was an asymmetrical eyesore. Mismatched nightstands, a baby blue Jonathan Adler lamp on one side, a tomato orange ribbed one on the other. Then Kelly Wearstler whipped open her warehouse for One Kings Lane, and I spent nearly an hour feverishly refreshing my internet browser until a set of stone-veneer nightstands slipped out of other members’ online carts, and into my own. (I sorta owe God sixty-seven favors now.)

I had feared it might take another few years to find matching lamps worthy of my Wearstlers, but it took only twelve days ’til I spotted a conical, concrete number at Gabberts that was just about perfect.

The on/off switch was situated on the cord, and the silken shade that came with it was undersized and uninspiring – but what better excuse to at last enter the nouveau-riche-ish worlds of Lamp Rewiring and Custom Shade Ordering?

So the bedroom and I are on a roll, after eons of aesthetic inactivity. A queen-sized bed that doesn’t squeak when anyone breathes is pretty much all we still need.

On The Side

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Although it can and literally HAS taken me over seven years to find a bigger better bed, a rustic but not-too-rustic dining room table, and fifty-five other furnishing essentials for our no-longer-new home – it’s never been challenging for me to round together a sizable stable of side tables.

At fifteen to a hundred-and-fifty bucks, usually, side tables stand free of the daunting financial investment inherent in larger furnishings.

And you can stash them in the back seat of your whatever-mobile, without needing a U-Haul or your mom’s mammoth un-mini-van to get them out of the store.

In a home, side tables fill in the corners, crannies and visual cracks of a space. I’ve been studying this book, American Modern, a ton the past year, and designer Thomas O’Brien tucks tables any and every old place, even under and sometimes on top of other tables.

So while, a few months ago, I was thinking the addition of four new side tables to my sizable stash was starting to become senseless, O’Brien’s book reminded me you can legitimately jam a giant number of little tables into even the dwarf-iest room and it won’t be overkill.

So on I go – not overkilling a thing.

Above tables:

1. Geometric Table – HomeGoods.

2. Puzzle Nesting Tables – Thomas O’Brien from 2005. I lurked on e-bay for over a year for those puppies.

3. Cement Cube Table – CB2.

4. African Bowl Table – Vintage, then painted glossy white by yours truly ’til my index finger fell numb for a week.

Toying Around

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Last week I was searching, I think, equestrian art and happened upon these Czechoslovakian toy prints from a 1950s catalog.

For 60-year-old sketches of children’s playthings, there was something rather grown up and modern about many of them.

So I picked my three favorite prints out of the dozens available, and my plan is to scan them in – combine, rearrange and minimize the layout(s), and create one perfect piece to print out and frame.

A timeless, un-traceable work with nods to Ancient Roman artifacts and to backyard games of Cowboys and Indians. Doesn’t make sense in a sentence, but on a wall, in a frame, I think and hope that it will.

The toy prints which I didn’t purchase can be found and enjoyed here.

Vase to Vase

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Those close to me are convinced I can’t go six days without buying a new vase. I can appreciate their concern, but really, vases are one of the basic building blocks of interior decorating. And as long as you’re mixing them in with boxes and books and objets and art, you should be able to avoid visitors mistaking your home for a vase museum.

Out of my most recent batch of home decor purchases, less than a third are technically vases, my critics will be (un)pleased to know. I’ve been pounding the pavement on One Kings Lane with increased frequency and found this vintage Mexican abalone box during my favorite Tastemaker Tag Sale of the Fall, curated by designer Darren Brown.

Brown offered some kooky, California folk art vessels shaped like bearded Jesus-lookalikes in the collection as well, which didn’t quite seem like they would’ve worked in my home.

But Jonathan Adler’s reversible king/queen vase referenced the same 70s, fuzz-faced vibe in a subtler and less psychedelic way, and for four hundred dollars less.

With the Adler vase, the abalone box, and the metallic paint-splattered pot I found on Etsy, I’m seeing if a hit of retro, hippie-commune chic can add some unexpected and eccentric echoes to the otherwise genteel tablescapes of Tudor Mansion.

Left Hanging

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Most of the art I was aiming to get framed and in place before the holidays remained grounded in lightless closets this past month. Every time I was set to be ready, some other piece, new or old, would pop into the picture and prompt me to pause. With the garland gone and our wilting Christmas tree now thrown to the curb, it’s time to finally spruce up our space and do some hardcore hanging.

One of the pieces I’ve been most excited to install was the above bust portrait from Russia. The image is originally off a postcard I retouched to eliminate needless negative space, and I threw in a free nose-job for the old Soviet while I was at it. I shaved a good 10 years off his schnoz in under a minute, that’s how deft I am with digital knives.

The abstract water color I commissioned from my very own artist-in-residence, M. Hurlburt. Over the course of six or seven nights I had Hurly render similar pieces in endless shades and shapes – and in the end, drove him to madness and myself to giggles by choosing the very first one he’d completed. When it’s right, it’s right, but sometimes you don’t know that until you first go way wrong. (For, like a whole week.)

The colorized photo of this sun-streaked courtyard had been sitting around, unframed, for at least three years. Probably more like four. I wasn’t ever sure whether to go modern or antique-y with it, so in December I finally decided to not really officially decide, and just jam it in a twenty dollar frame that wasn’t up to any good anyway, and call it a day.

Really/obviously, I’ve been thinking, and perfecting, and waiting too long on all this. Hand me the hammer, and let’s just nail these things.

The Nights Before Christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

All is now glistening and glowing here in our little house we inaccurately (but affectionately) call Tudor Mansion. The year we moved in I found a bucket of deeply discounted garland in citrusy sherbet colors during a Boxing Day sale. And so ever since then our home’s holiday get-up has strayed from the red/green grind of Christmas tradition.

Our house is already outfitted in faded, sea-glassy colors the rest of the year, so we simply tint our Christmas in the same sorts of hues, adding in Whoville-like pops of bubble gummy pink and key lime green.

Many of the pieces have been handed down to us from German Grandmothers or Church Crocheting Club members over the years and have become some of our favorite items for the warm sense of history they bring to our set up.

And everything else we try and keep silvery or sparkly or fuzzy or felted.

I try and find one or two new things to add to the arsenal each year. We ordered a dozen boxes of white bubble lights for the tree back in November, but they were back-ordered and only arrived a few days ago.

Next year, though, we’ll bubble up for sure.

Many out there may whine about how early it gets dark the end of December. But I can’t wait for the sun to fall out of the sky this time of year so I can flick on the tree and watch our non-Mansion shine.

Best Foot Forward

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Since our house was built in 1932 and still features much of its original Art Deco-era lighting fixtures and tiling, furnishing it these past years has required a sort of elegant formality, overall.

Lately though, I’ve been brainstorming ways to insert some kooky quirk into the look of the place, scanning the whole wide world for irreverent pieces that playfully modernize the mood – without veering into plasticky kitsch.

I recently found these little footed bowls from India on-line and they’re just the oddball oomph my living/dining/every room could use.

Hand-carved in marble, the bowls’ classic material grounds them in a museum-worthy timelessness. And yet there’s an irreverent wit about them due to their sly, bisected shape. Their overall look whispers ancient Aztec Teletubby statues severed in half by a lunatic art star.

I’ve found that, with or without a plant potted inside, even one of these sly little guys kicks up the crazy/cool quotient of an entire room.

Shine On

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Recent foraging through my favorite thrift store had proved fruitless for months on end, but the curse was finally broken this week with some shiny, fine finds.

Totally “Hot” bling – for my house, not me.

The “family portrait” of all I found including a massive quartz crystal that Speidi would die for.

The fine print on my ‘lil British tin.

I found a place for all my shiny finds in almost no time; although the lamp is resting in a closet, waiting for some shade.