I know I haven't been blogging as much lately. I've been focusing my attention on Will & Bequeath and it's kind of hard to keep switching gears to write about so many different things. Also, the shop is taking up a lot of my free time, leaving little room for crafting, etc. I wonder if I'll be able to find a balance and ultimately keep doing both, or if I'll eventually have to choose...?
But I digress.
I'm writing today to talk about the shop, actually. Or at least, to talk about some of my thoughts about the shop, and about trying to learn to navigate that kind of creative business.
Here's my issue: I want my shop to be beautiful. And I can't help but be inspired by other vintage shops out there, but I don't want to rip off anyone else's ideas/style.
With writing, it's easy. A solid career and a couple of English degrees have made plagiarism easy to avoid, but when it comes to "style" I'm finding myself worrying constantly about being a copycat.
Let me explain in a bit more detail, using the example of Eddie Ross.
I've long been a fan of Ross and have been following his blog and his Etsy store since each of them launched.
Ross uses a grey background and a natural tabletop cover (burlap?) as a backdrop for his shop wares. Look:
Now, I've been wanting to create a NEW set for my own shop wares -- something that will allow me to shoot consistent photographs of my stock all year long. (Right now, I shoot outside, in the grass, but come winter, that will no longer be possible. And besides, I'd like my wares to look a little more professional.)
I've been experimenting with different backgrounds and tabletops and the combo I like best so far is ... a dark grey background with a burlap-covered tabletop.
Sure, the grey is darker (and it's paint, not fabric) and the burlap is a different weave/texture/tone, but still... it's basically the same background. So...
Am I ripping Ross off?
In the age of Pinterest, etc. when we're constantly bombarded with visuals that are meant both to impress and inspire us, how do we come up with original ideas? I can't unsee what I've already seen and I can't say that I haven't been inspired by other people's beautiful work, but when is inspiration a good thing and when it is just copycatting?
Anyway, this is what's on my mind. Weigh in if you have any insights.
I have to confess, that sometimes, I buy things just because I like the packaging. Foodstuffs, I mean.
And it doesn't MATTER. No one sees inside my cabinets. But nonetheless, I like them to be pretty, which is why I buy this stuff.
I am the only person who does this? Come on now, confess. I don't like feeling l like a lone weirdo.
Okay, friends. I need your help.
See, I have this sofa. It's deco-era yellow vinyl number that I bought for only $100 (plus $30 in shipping) off Craigslist back in 2007. It has served me well and fits perfectly in our small living room.
It's a great little sofa. Solidly structured with foam and innards in good condition. Problem is, the vinyl is going. You can't tell in the pictures, but on the seat cushions, it's cracked and peeling like a mofo. It doesn't look good.
Now, here is my dilemma: I would love to keep the sofa. I've looked into having it reupholstered, and I estimate it will cost about $1200 to do so. Considering our personal finances, this is a LOT of money. For between $300 and $400, we could reupholster just the seat cushions and leave the rest of the frame as is, but again, it's a pretty pricey prospect.
I'm torn. I'm torn because I spent so little on the sofa to begin with, so perhaps spending a lot now isn't such a big deal. Then again, I could get a new sofa for less than reupholstering, and a new/old Craigslist model for WAY less. Financially speaking, a different sofa makes more sense. But I don't want to send this perfectly good piece to a landfill either, not when it can easily be rehabilitated to last another 20 years, in any fabric I want...
Speaking of which, here are a couple of the fabrics I've been considering were we to reupholster:
Trina Turk's Peacock, (which I think may be too much):
Dwell's IKAT Citrine:
I just don't know what to do.
1. Nothing. Live with the tears until we feel comfortable spending on redoing the sofa right.
2. Reupholster: spend the money and get the sofa we want and the pleasure of knowing we saved something from landfill death. Try not to be so fussy about money.
3. Reupholster just the cushions.
4. Ditch this sofa and get something affordable new/old from Craigslist or similar.
You guys are stylish and smart. Weigh in, would you? And if you have fabric ideas, I'd love to hear them. If we reupholster, we're going to have the lovely Staci at Switch Studio do the work... which means we also will have to haul the piece to and from Oakville from Toronto...
Sigh. I am paralysed. Help!
So, I'm thinking about getting a vintage table fan.
There are a whole bunch in stock right now at Hot Hunt - the Drake General Store's little off-shoot vintage boutique (located on Queen West, near Dovercourt). (Side note on Hot Hunt: For awhile, they stocked half vintage oddities and half new clothes and accessories and it was called 50/50, but they've gone all vintage and changed the name.)
Anyway, what do you think of the fans?
I know old fans with limited grills can be dangerous, but I don't have kids and am not planning on sticking my appendages between the bars. So safety aside, what do you think? Are reproductions better? New fans that just LOOK retro? Or are these true vintage babies cooler somehow?
(Cooler... get it?)
I have a weakness for Dollarama.
There. I said it.
For the most part, I avoid mass-market consumption. I buy my clothes at Goodwill, I eschew Walmart. I shop at mainstream supermarkets, but I try to hit up the farmer's markets too. I'm not perfect by any means, but I TRY.
But somehow, when it comes to Dollarama, my ethics fly out the window and my cheap, miserly self comes to the fore.
I can't help it. I'm OBSESSED with Dollarama.
A new location opened up near my place in the last month, and it's so bright and shiny and well stocked. I feel lured there by the bright florescent lights and cheap craft supplies.
And lest you think I'm just a crazy lady, I wanted to post today about some of my absolute-favourite Dollarama deals. Because they have some GREAT stuff, yo.
Case in point: Art Blanc notebooks. These sweet, hard-backed, high quality babies come from Russia and are sold in gift shops for $12 (or more). They're $2 a piece at Dollarama. They're authentic. AND they're gorgeous. Lots of patterns are available.
Images from Art Blanc.
For the crafty among you, the Dollarama possibilities are endless, but my latest thing is making these storage containers for my niece (who has a million little bits and bobs to organize). You can get everything you need for this project at Dollarama: the hard animals (usually 4 or more for $1), the jars, the paint, and the epoxy glue. Amazeballs.
And if you want some insta-pretty (no crafting required) check out these glass rose votive/tea-light holders. (I have resisted buying any so far, because we can't handle more knick knacks, but I'm very tempted.)
Dollarama stock photo.
Finally, I check out the garden section, where there is a seemingly endless supply of cute animals that can be spray painted and turned into chic book ends and that sort of thing. My house is turning into a menagerie. No joke.
Lion photos by the crafty lady over at Sweetsuite10. Check out her blog for DIY instructions.
I love Dollarama. I really do. But I truly feel guilty about it. In fact, I semi-hate myself... but I just can't stop shopping there. I'm addicted.
Is there a Dollarama addicts support group? Anyone? Anyone?
P.S. What's wrong with Dollarama? Well, I haven't done a LOT of research, but it's pretty safe to assume that many of their products, like those at Wal-Mart, are produced in sweat shop conditions, quite possibly by child labour. This is exactly the opposite of the sort of thing I would like to support with my consumer dollars... Sigh.
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."
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.
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.