So... I'm a little OCD.

Okay, I'm more than a little OCD. But it's not that bad.

I don't have OCD in that amusing "I'm such an organized perfectionist!" sort of way. Rather, I am obsessive in the l "I lie awake all night worrying" sort of way, and compulsive in the "it's 3am and I MUST scrub down the cabinets" sort of way. Neither of which is a good.

But it could be a lot worse, so I try not to complain about it.

Here's the latest thing I'm obsessing about: making everything in my kitchen cabinets "match."
Picture

Remember back when I blogged about French bistro glasses? Well, since then, I've converted nearly all my glassware to matching, bistro-style sets. The only glasses in my cabinet that aren't faceted are the wine glasses.


And it's bothering me.

So I'm thinking of getting new wine glasses. (Even though I hardly use the ones I have and there's not a thing wrong with them anyway.)

I'm considering these new Pokal ones, from IKEA:

I should confess that already (just last week, in fact) I indulged in a set of six teeny weenie shot-sized bistro glasses that I absolutely didn't need.

Of course, I didn't HAVE six matching shot glasses already. And the set (also IKEA) was only $2.99. So I felt semi-justified... but ... BUT ...
Would getting the wine glasses be going too far? Would the all-matching, all-faceted look even be a good thing? Or am I being too obsessive again?

P.S. Happy Leap Day! ;)
 
 
So I was flipping through the March issue of Toronto Life the other day (which is NOT a favourite magazine, but my subscription was dirt cheap) when I came across the following picture and associated feature in the Navigator/Great Spaces section:
Photo of the Pilosof home taken by Michael Graydon, featured in Toronto Life, March 2012.
I saw it and I thought, "Hmmm... I recognize that banquette. AND that light fixture. Isn't this a Sarah Richardson space?"

But then I looked at the rest of the photos and thought, "No way. This is NOT Sarah's style."

Check out the other half of the living room:
Photo of the Pilosof home taken by Michael Graydon, featured in Toronto Life, March 2012.

Sorry about the seam. I had to scan these pages.

Anyway, a little research reveals that I was right! That IS a Sarah Richardson banquette, and the space was formerly featured on Richardson's old show, Design Inc.

However, the house has since been sold and redesigned by the new owners. Alex Bozikovic (writer of the Toronto Life story) reports that Karen Pilosof, one of the new owners, felt the old space looked "like a boutique hotel . . . it was absolutely beautiful, but the owners probably had no children. It was too serious. I had to make it more family-oriented and more playful."

So let's take a look at the space before the redesign. Here's what Sarah Richardson did initially:
Both photos of the "city chic lounge" from the Sarah Richardson Design portfolio.

So what do you think of this makeover? (Or make-under, as it were?) Was Sarah's initial design too perfect? If you'd bought this house, would you have changed it? I'm curious.
 
 
I blogged for Nyman Ink about an interesting development in the world of Pinterest today.

And then I promptly deleted all my boards.

Read the blog and the associated links for the whole story, but the basic gist is this:
Pinterest (like many social media sites) just isn't COOL. The terms of service aren't cool.

I love social media and I want to use these great new services, but I just can't get behind this kind of legal manipulation. Until something changes, I won't be using Pinterest. I've created a poster (a very simple, kind of ugly poster) to that effect.

Feel free to pin it and share it. It's free.

Technically I own it, because I made it, but I give you all permission to use it, pin it, post it on your blogs, etc. Go nuts.
See? See how out in the open and easy and clear that was? That's how Pinterest should be.

Lame Terms of Service aren't chic. Spread the word.
 
 
Back in September 2011, I saw a photo in House & Home magazine that I really loved.
House & Home, Sept. 2011, Photographer: Angus Fergusson, Stylist: Stacey Smithers.
There were a lot of things I liked about the photo, and a lot of small DIYs I hoped to replicate, but the but that really stuck with me was the bedside lamp. (I've pointed to it in the photo.)

The inside of the shade was painted gold (a look I love -- I've painted a lot of my shades gold in similar fashion). But what you can't really see is that there was also a message written inside the shade. In black marker, I think.

LOVE! What a fun idea!

I've finally done it myself, using my desk lamp, which has a large black linen drum shade on it. I'd already painted the interior of the shade gold (a couple of years ago, actually), so all that was left to do was add the message.

I used a big fat Grand & Toy permanent black market (roundedge) and I loosely scrawled messages throughout the inside of the shade. I didn't over think it. Instead of agonizing about the words, I just free associated little bits and pieces of poetry I have memorized from my long years as an English student. There's a lot of Sylvia Path, a bit of Elizzabeth Bishop, some E. E. Cummings... it's not formal and it's not really visible from the outside. When the light is on, the writing can be seen only faintly from the outside, and it has a simple stripey quality. When I'm sitting at my desk, I can see up and inside the shade, and read the little notes.
It's not an amazing project, and it doesn't really make a big impact, but I'm really happy with it. I'd like to write secret little notes on the inside of ALL my lamp shades.

What do you think? Would you try it?
 
 
Since I was talking about kid-friendly stuff earlier in the week, I thought I'd continue on with that theme and share a project I did with my four-year-old niece last weekend.

We made rainbow crayons.

I had promised her an "art day" as her Christmas present (just me and her) and the crayon idea was one I had in my pocket for when we got tired of painting (which we did). It's a really easy one, and there are instructions all over the week. Google "rainbow crayons" and you'll see what I mean. Here's how we made ours:

Step 1: Pick out all the bits of broken crayons for your crayon jar (I know you have one!). This is a simple task that even a toddler can handle. It's about digging and selecting and little ones are good at that.

Step 2: Line a muffin tin with paper cups (or don't, but this will be easier if you do).

Step 3: Peel the bits of broken crayon and place the pieces willy nilly in the muffin tin cups. (If you like, you can organize the bits of crayon by colour. I didn't, because we were "experimenting" but you really can't go wrong, no matter what you do.
Step 4: Once the paper cups are about 1/2 full of broken crayon, put the tray into the oven at a low temp. (We set ours to 170 degrees F. because that's the lowest it would go.)

Step 5: Go off and do something else. Check on your melting crayons every 10 minutes or so.

Step 6: When you notice that the crayons have all melted, remove the muffin tin and leave it out to cool. (Or melting process took about 35 mins). If you put a lot of different colours in each cup, the tops of your melted crayons may look oily and yucky (probably greyish brown). Don't worry! Just be patient and let them cool.
In other words, even if your crayons look like this don't worry:
They need a little more time in the oven, and the murky look is not a problem.
Step 7: When the tray has cooled, remove the new, round crayons and peel off the paper cups. Even if the tops looked kind of icky, the bottoms will be vibrant and wonderful looking.
Step 8: Colour! You now have a set of round, rainbow crayons that will look a little like colourful peanut butter cups. Find some fresh paper and make some art!
 
 
At my house, the accessories are breakable. Highly breakable. I collect vintage milk glass, slag glass, and depression glass. I have living orchids curving delicately over my nightstand. My pet fish lives on a low coffee table, in a vintage glass bowl.

It's not a kid-friendly space.

My sister, however, has two small children who are (for lack of a better word) a bit willful (read: wild). And as such, her house has almost no accessories. Her few breakables are hidden away or gathered messily on high shelves, and her surfaces are either bare or strewn with papers. Her house is about practicality, and about foiling her children's innate need to break anything and everything of value she might get her hands on.

So I resolved to help her out. Why CAN'T she have a few glam accessories? Things that look pretty and posh? Sure, teaching the kids to be less destructive would be a good step to take, but I didn't want to set my sights too high. So instead, I set about looking for some posh-looking accessories that could stand up to the chaos.

Here's my first effort: a totally kid-friendly, totally-unbreakable, totally budget table orchid.
Let me tell you what this orchid display is made of:
It's 100% Dollarama.

Materials

1. A large plastic salad bowl (any solid colour you like).
2. A foam craft ball.
3. A bread knife and tape (you probably have these items already).
4. 2 or 3 fake orchid stems.
5. 2 packages of decorative moss.

The whole deal should cost approximately $7.

Instructions

Step 1: Using the knife, cut the foam ball in half or 3/4. (You're just looking to give it a flat side.)
Step 2: Place the flat side of the foam ball down on the bottom/middle of the plastic bowl. Using tape, secure it to the bottom of the bowl. Don't worry if the tape looks ugly. You won't see it once the moss is in.
Step 3: Drive the orchid stems into the foam ball. If the stems are too long, but them down with scissors or wire-cutters. (OR, just bend the wire stems back and forth a bit at the spot where you want to cut - they'll break eventually.)
Step 4: Fill the bowl with moss, covering the foam and the bottom of the stems.
Step 5: Bend the orchid leaves down so they are horizontal across the surface of the moss. And bit and bend the stems of the fake flowers in a way that looks good to you.

Done. You have a pretty, glam-looking accessory that your kids can knock to the ground with abandon. Sure, the moss will go flying, but that's an easy clean up. This is an unbreakable, creation, in my opinion.

Next, I wanted to draw your attention to the pressed glass bowl that you see on the arm of the chair in the first photo. Pretty right? Let's take a closer look:
On the left is a little depression glass dish, on the right is the bowl I was talking about. Glam! Sparkly! Posh, pretty and ... plastic.

That's right, plastic. I bought it for 99 cents at Goodwill.

If that's not a kid-friendly accessory, I don't know what is. Can't wait to take these items over to my sister's house to test them out.
 
 
Maybe I'm just a jerk. I don' t know. Maybe no one else feels this way and this rant will lose me followers and friends, but I don't care. I have to let it out. I have to make this confession so that it will stop burning a hole in my heart:

I hate helping you decorate.

Not ALL of you. Just some of you. I love decorating, and I enjoy working on my own place and on the homes of friends who are easy to deal with, but most of the time "helping" other people with their houses is a big fat pain in the bum.

Ya, I said it.

I don't know how real designers and decorators do it. I really don't. Because "clients" kind of suck. Not all of the time, but some of the time. Most of the time when you're me.
Yes, I like this. Doesn't mean you're going to like this. Photo by Melanie Acevedo from 1sts Dibs.
_
Here's how my decorating woes usually play out.

1. Someone sees my apartment (in real life, on the blog, on Facebook, wherever). And they love it. (Yay!) Said someone gets in touch immediately to ask for "help" with their home. Help means "I'm not going to pay you, but don't worry, this will be fun and easy!"

2. I'm nice, so I say "Okay, I will help you." I do this out of the goodness of my heart, because as stated, I am nice. And also because I have trouble saying no.

3. I ask a few simple questions such as "What rooms were you hoping to work on? What were you hoping to change? Can you tell me a bit more about what you like and don't like? Do you have a budget in mind?" Sometimes, I even send people to my Pinterest boards, telling them to pull the pictures they like and point out the ones they don't like. This will help, I say.
What about this? Do you hate it? It's okay if you do. Just have an opinion. This rustic pantry is in the home of Josh Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile, as seen in a Design*Sponge Sneak Peek.
Never heard of Design*Sponge? That's because you know nothing. You should defer to me.

4. Nothing happens for weeks because no one ever seems to want to answer these simple questions. A month later, said someone gets in touch again. "Want to go to IKEA with me and my eight screaming children!? I need your heeeeeellllp!"

5. Again, I agree. Because I said I would help and this appears to be the help you want. Off to IKEA (or Home Sense, or Home Depot, or Structube, or whereEVER we go). Said someone brings his/her partner, pets and children. Chaos ensues. It's like herding cats.

6. As a group, we manage to buy one major item (a sofa, a rug, a chair, a dining set). Said someone doesn't want to pay for shipping, so we move these items ourselves. And when I say ourselves, I mean "myself" along with a grumpy husband who hasn't worked out in awhile. We haul the new item home.

7. Back at someone's house, chaos resumes. It's now 8 p.m. and the kids are up past their bedtime, so will I come back another day to help unwrap and place the new piece(s)? Of course I will!
I love IKEA. When I am able to go there on a weekday. Alone. With anyone else? Please god, no.
_
8. When I come back, the new piece is exactly where I left it. I proceed to haul it into place, and unwrap it by hand, with no help from the out-of-shape husband, who didn't want to redecorate in the first place. Said someone realizes she doesn't like the new item. It doesn't work. It has to go back.

9. I talk the crazy person down from the ledge, and calmly explain that the new item isn't working because the room in question hasn't been cleaned since the dark ages, and every surface in it is covered with toys and/or papers. Someone continues to panic. I end up cleaning her house in order to show her that we don't, in fact, have to return anything.
Cleaning is fine... it's just not a very effective/appropriate use of my time.
Alas, unless I want to return a sofa, it's necessary to prove my point. 

10. Three weeks later, the house is again in shambles and the out-of-shape husband thinks the new sofa was a mistake. Someone calls me back. We need to finish the decorating! Can I help?

11. I ask again, "what else did you want to do? Do you have a budget in mind? What doesn't he like about the sofa?" Etc. Responses are not forthcoming. Return to step #4, above.
Since you don't know what you like, let's focus on one thing.
This is a "salon wall" from House & Home in 2009 by Michael Penney, shot by Stacey Brandford.
If you don't like it, that's cool. If you say it's "gross" or "crazy" I might have to punch you in the face.
_
This process makes me want to kill myself. Seriously, people, how do you do it? How do you deal with decorating clients who have no concept of how much time things take or how much furniture actually costs? How do you deal with lunatics who want you to pick out the colours for their home, only to hate everything you choose? How do you deal with people who want your help, but refuse to take a suggestion until you PROVE they're going to like it? How do you deal with people who have no vocabulary, vision, or insight into the decorating process, but very (VERY) strong opinions? HOW?

HOW, I ASK YOU!?

Thank the good lord and baby jebus I'm not a real designer/decorator. Now I just need to learn to say no to the freeloaders and I'll be all set.
 
 
I came across an adorable elephant tea pot recently that I felt I just had to buy, even though I already have a perfectly good teapot in my cupboard already. Here it is:
_
For several weeks, the little dude's been sitting on my counter, waiting to be used.

Finally, a few days ago,  because I was sick, I got around to making some tea. And you know what I found?

This tea pot sucks.

I mean... it's awful. Truly.

Worst. Design. Ever.

You have to turn it practically upside to get any tea out, which makes liquid seep out from under the lid, likely burning your hands. And the holes on the inside of the pot are so small, you can only pour a slow-moving, measly dribble.

This is seriously annoying.

So, since functionality is nil, I'm going back to my old pot. But what to do with this elephant? I don't want to give him to Goodwill where he may be bought by some unsuspecting individual who will soon find him/herself with scalded hands. And besides, the thing's cute. It doesn't work in the way it's intended, but it's still cute.

So, I thought: planter.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this planter idea isn't really working, is it? What can I do differently to make this elephant useful in some way? Do you think it would be better with a different kind of plant inside? Help!