So, if you've been paying attention, you know I've had some rug problems
lately. I had to throw out a jute number that contained worms. It was disgusting.
The worms have been eradicated and the house is bug-free again.* But the guest room floor is also bare, and that, more than anything else, calls to mind one of my life's minor tragedies: The loss of my grandparents' Beni Ourain rug.
Here's a very similar vintage one that costs, oh, about $4000+ CAD.
The one I ALMOST got would have cost just as much, if not more. It was very large. It was cream, with a brown diamond pattern (of course). It was hand-woven from berber wool. It was totally authentic. It lived in my grandparents' den, and now, it's gone. Lost to the landfill or to the Goodwill. On occasion, my heart aches for it.
The truth is that it was promised to me several times over the years, as were various other small things that I, as a design-lover, seemed to appreciate more than others in the family, but I never received it. This happens and it's no one's fault. Moving is chaotic, people get old, personalities clash, and plans fall apart. Inheritances are weird and shit happens. I don't think anyone swiped it from me. I just feel bummed about it, you know? I should have explained that it was valuable, at the very least because I'm pretty sure it ended up in the garbage, which is wrong wrong wrong. Depressingly wrong.
Anyway. I really miss that rug. All it needed was a good cleaning. :(
Now, let's twist the knife a little bit and take a look at how a Beni Ourain rug looks in context. (Hint: They look damn good.)
Cindy Crawford's room, designed by Michael S. Smith, as seen in Elle Decor. Photo by Simon Upton.
Sigh. Goodbye forever, beautiful rug. I am poor and will never see the likes of you again. It hurts to have come so close.** Feel my pain, blog readers.
* Until the centipedes come, of course. I can hardly WAIT until the warm weather. Real spring! Hooray for old Toronto houses and their summertime crawlies! Yayayaya! I love it! By which I mean I hate and despise it. Centipedes are the effing worst. Disgusting.
** It doesn't hurt that much. I mean, my life is pretty good. This is a very privileged complaint, and I definitely know it. I'm just being hyperbolical, as is my wont.
So, a couple of years ago, I bought a Tarnby rug from Ikea. It's one of those natural fibre dealies -- 100% jute -- and supposedly hand-woven. Only $150. Not bad, eh? It looked great, at first. You've seen photos of it in my guest room, which I've been talking about a lot on the blog of late, so I won't repost those photos. I'll find some other photos of it looking great.
Pretty, ain't it?
Yeah, it's pretty. It's also horrible.
Pardon my not-French, but I fucking hate this rug. There are so many problems with it. I have heard that others have had similar problems, so I know it's not just me. At the same time, I know some people who are happy with it. I just don't get it.
Here's a list of just a handful of the problems I've experienced with the Tarnby jute rug:
1. It sheds dirt, constantly. I knew this would happen to some extent -- the natural jute would disintegrate a bit. But I also thought regular care and cleaning would solve the problem. ... Regular care and cleaning did NOT solve the problem. Sandy, filthy dirt accumulates in piles under and around the rug constantly. And moving ALL the furniture in order to get under the damn thing is frustrating to say the least.
2. Speaking of being under the furniture, even if you use protective pads, furniture legs ruin this rug, leaving massive dents that won't come out, holes, etc. The Tarnby is NOT hardwearing. Walking on it wears it out/down very quickly, too.
3. I'm sorry to say that this rug may damage your floor. Reports online
talk of permanently scarred hardwood AND laminate. WTF? What kind of lightweight, natural-fibre rig leaves permanent marks on hardwood!? I've never heard of such a thing. Nonetheless, a lot of people are talking about it. (Sidenote: I don't really trust the racist garbage-humans on that particular thread, though, since some of them are talking about fear of dirt "from a third world country." One is even afraid that foreign dirt might be carcinogenic. These people are being xenophobic ... about Ikea rugs. Psychos.)
4. The rug attracts bugs. This is embarrassing to admit, but I really don't feel it's my fault. I clean! I have disinfected. I have tried everything. But every damn time I lift this thing to attack the latest sand/dirt/dust deposit, I find myself face to face with larvae. Yep. Worms.
Not a lot of them -- just a few each time. They. Won't. Go. Away. I think they are rug beetle larvae. They are disgusting. WHERE are they coming from? They are nowhere else in the house. The other rugs are fine. (I was going to post a picture, but I don't want to traumatize anyone. Pray, do not Google these things. You will be sorry.)
5. Did I mention the dirt? The massive piles of dirt?
I threw away the Tarnby several days ago. I cleaned out the room, deep cleaned the floor, and lo and behold, everything seems better now. This rug was the source of all evil in my house. I'm convinced of it.
Even at a measly $150, it's overpriced, in my opinion. I have always loved Ikea. It has never failed me so spectacularly in the past. That general love remains, but this rug was a nightmare. Thought I'd better warn you.
(And if you have this rug and have NOT had any problems with it, I'd love to hear from you too. Where do you live? What is your space like? What sort of magic do you use?)
P.S. I lied about not posting a gross picture. Here's one I sourced online, featuring some very lovely larvae. (Shudder.)
Okay, so awhile back, I posted about updating my guest room/office/imaginary nursery/sick room/we're-having-a-fight-and-am-sick-of-your-stupid-face room. (Let's be honest, people. If you've got a two bedroom apartment, and two people live in it, that extra room probably wears a lot of hats.)
I talked about painting it green.
Though several months have passed, I have not actually painted it green. There's so much work I would need to do ... emptying the space, cleaning it properly, getting the paint, etc. Overwhelming. So I've pushed painting to the end of my to-do list and have tried to forget about it.
Still, redecorating the room has been on my mind. I've just decided that focussing on the furniture and layout would be a simpler first step. Things are in motion. So I thought I'd talk a little bit about textiles and what I've been planning in the bed-department.
You've seen the room has it was, right? Two twin beds? Very country/white. I'm so tired of it. I want more colour. I want one bed, not two. I want more storage. I want to bring up some antiques from the basement.
Photo by Abby Cook for Apartment Therapy.
I bought the mattresses and box springs for these twin babies from Craigslist and at Value Village. They are very so-so. I am thinking of throwing away one box spring/mattress combo, and keeping on in storage for potential future use. (Anyone want a free twin set? Anyone?)
My antique three quarter bed needs a good home, having returned from a five-year college sojourn with my brother-in-law in Montreal. Before that, it was my bed at my single-lady apartment, and before that, it was the guest bed at my parents' house. Before THAT, it was my high school/childhood bed, and before that, it was my great grandmother's. The mattress has been replaced relatively recently, thank goodness, but other than that, it's just the bed that keeps on giving. (That sounded dirty and I'm sorry.) I'm using it instead of the twins.
Getting sheets for a 3/4 is a pain-in-the-bee-hind, I can tell you. However, certain retailer such as Beddington's
do carry them. I just use a double or queen comforter/duvet on top, even though it's a little too big.
I've been shopping for new duvet covers, which is actually a pretty fun activity. There are plenty of options to choose from. Having been to Bed Bath & Beyond -- or Bed Bath & Barf, as it should be called* -- and seen their $300+ options, I think I'm likely going to go with something from Ikea. Ikea hasn't failed me yet. I have a couple of Ikea duvet covers that have been going strong for 10+ years. Cotton that gets better with age is really the only reasonable choice.
ANYWAY, here are some of the bedding looks I've been keeping my eye on at everybody's favourite Scandinavian superstore.
The ÅKERTISTEL set is my current favourite. Look how bright it is! Love. Only $34.99 for a double/queen.
With yellow bedding, the room could end up looking something like this:
This image is all over the web, with no proper credit. Know the source? Please share.
The NYPONROS set is pretty classic, and only $54.99. But would it look juvenile/too casual?
Stripey, seersucker-esque bedding could look something like this:
Williams Sonoma Home, no longer available.
The BJÖRNLOKA set is very, very tempting. Only $44.99, and it looks like grain sacks/vintage linen.
This gain sack-style number could look like this:
Finally, we have the ÄNGSÖRT set. It's pretty classic, made of real linen, priced at $89.99.
Blue and white bedding is very common. This particularly choice has been styled thus:
Oh god. What should I DO? Don't even get me started talking about the curtains. We'll have to save talking about additional textiles for another day.
*Bed Bath & Beyond smells like perfumed ass. I'm sorry, but it does. It's also extremely overpriced, the website doesn't let you see what's available in-store, and going into one gives me an insta-headache. Irritating as all heck.
So, I was invited to the media breakfast/preview of the One Of A Kind Christmas Show
which kicked off down at the Ex this morning. (I don't know why I get invited to this sort of thing, because I am a big nobody. And let me tell you, watching the vendors get excited by my media pass and fancy camera kind of broke my heart, but I digress.) Invited I was, and went I did. I mean, the show costs $12/$14 (online/in-person) to get in, and as press, I could get in for free. Between that and the offer of a free doughnut, I wasn't going to say no.
And for once, I did the show right. I went up and down EVERY AISLE IN THE PLACE. My feet are currently incredibly sore and I'm a little grumpy, but I feel like I saw everything and took note of everything that really caught my eye. And I took photos of all of it, which I will now share with you, but first, a bit of a caveat:
As huge as this post is, it features only a small fraction of what's on display. (I believe there are more than 800 OOAK booths/vendors this year.) My personality means I'm drawn to decorative objects, fine art, and that sort of thing. Things I generally avoid, and that you won't likely see here, but that are in abundance at the show: kids' stuff, woollens and knits, clothing, most wood and leather goods, art glass and most pottery, food and edibles. I also steered clear of most of the cutesy stuff (felted creatures, owls, bunnies, and the like), most of the jewellery, most of the furniture, and all of the body/beauty products. All of that stuff is amazing in its own right, but I only stopped to photograph the things that really jumped out at me
, which may not be what will jump out at you. So... there. End caveat.Now, some pro tips:
- Work methodically. I saw every booth, starting at the east end of the centre (end of the alphabet) and moving west, winding up and down every aisle along the way. I know it seems a little anal, but making a plan for the path you want to take (and sticking to it) is a smart move. The show is overwhelming otherwise.
- Wear comfy shoes. SERIOUSLY. I was wearing Toms and my feet are still killing. (I saw a couple over-zealous young "journalists" in 4-5 inch heels, and I bet they want to kill themselves right now.)
- Give yourself a good three hours for your visit. Or even a full 1/2 day. It's better not to be rushed and if you want to see the whole thing, it's going to take you a long time. (Note: if you're bringing babies or little kids with you, as I noticed many did... well, you're crazy. What can I say? The rules don't apply. You may need 12 hours. Who knows?)
- Eat, hydrate and let yourself rest from time to time.
- CHECK YOUR COAT. It's hot as heck in the Direct Energy Centre. I have no idea why. Coat Check costs $2, but it's worth it.
Okay, enough with the tips. Are you ready to see what I saw? HERE GOES!
Stewart Jones: Booth R-57
These fine art paintings by local artist Stewart Jones were the very first thing that caught my eye. I stopped to snap this pic as I made my way along the back wall (before even making it to the first official aisle). Jones does "urban landscapes" and I'm sure his work doesn't come cheap, but I like the realness of his subject matter. Very Toronto.
Daniel Pollak Accessories: Booth T-54
I know I said I steered clear of most of the jewellery, but this booth was so glittery, it caught my eye immediately. So decadent, so sparkly, so over-the-top. It's fashion/costume jewellery, rather than fine jewellery, but I enjoyed it.
Kat Kaland: Booth Y-62
Artist Kat Kaland makes toys, illustrations, accessories, etc. She told me when I popped by that she's moving away from the toys and focussing more on art, and having seen the art -- paintings incorporating doll parts -- just my kind of creepy -- I think she's making a good decision. The pieces shown here, with the hands and the little 3D girl figures, go for about $200.
Moon Rox: Booth Y-20
Again, jewellery is hardly my thing, but it was early in the day and this gold-toned costume statement necklace caught my eye. Moon Rox is owned/designed by a woman named Monique V. Chan.
Noelle Hamlyn: Booth W-43
Hamlyn has been at the OOAK show before, showing off her repurposed art/purses made from books and magazines, but she's also doing framed artworks now, using the insides of the books (paper, illustration, etc.) as opposed to the outsides. Now, in general, I'm a "READ BOOKS, DON'T CUT THEM UP" sort of person, but I like what Noelle does nonetheless. Her bigger art pieces are about $165, while the smaller ones are about $90.
iDENTITY: Booth W-09
I stopped at this booth because of the hipster-factor. Megan Irish makes these pillows from recycled blankets (vintage Pendletons, The Bay/HSBC classics, army blankets, etc.) hipsterified with prints on top. Her company makes tees and other apparel as well, I think. The pillows are $48 to $108. (The HSBC ones are more pricey than the others.)
Heyday Design: Booth V-09
Hailing from Vancouver, Claire Madill makes these neat ceramic mason jars. You could achieve the same effect by painting a glass mason jar with flat paint, but nonetheless, these are nice as far a ceramics/porcelain go.
C Comme Ca: Booth V-43
Artist Cindy Cantin makes these bags and wallets from leather and wool felt and I thought they were super chic.
Dapila: Booth T-15
This stuff looks like ceramic, but it's mostly made of cement, which is sort of neat. I know body-parts and surrealist stuff isn't everyone's bag, but I sort of love it. I like the idea of using some of the finger sculptures to hold everyday objects like makeup brushes or razors.
Eric Seguin: Booth S-53
This is not a booth I'd usually stop at, filled as it was with knives and such, but I a few natural skulls caught my eye. These are otter, fox and mink, respectively. I have no idea why I like 'em, but I do.
Felt Factory: Booth R-19
These felt, mounted animal head pieces by artist Sabine Alpers are very well done. I love natural animal stuff (vintage, generally) but these might please the vegan in you if the real deal creeps you out.
Laurie Sponagle: Booth Q-31
These AH-MAZING charcoal drawings look like photographs. No kidding. That's how amazing they are. Artist Laurie Sponagle really stands out. Bigger pieces are priced at $1600, but there's a nice range of sizes available and the smaller pieces start at $250.
Tammy Shane: Booth Q-24
Tammy Shane is another stand-out fine artist exhibiting at the OOAK show. I would have bought one of her pieces in a heart beat if I could have. Gorgeous. Truly. I mean, look at those owls! Those birds! That sky! Love.
Yves' Drop: Booth N-06
Vintage neckties made awesome? Just my sort of thing. I kind of wish my husband would wear a tie every day. (And if he did, I get him a few of these babies.)
Tat Chao Design: Booth N-34
These glass candlesticks were pretty fabulous - substantial, yet delicate at the same time. Very unique. Tat Chao is a nice new addition to this year's show.
Sarah Tacoma: Booth L-23
Photography artist Sarah Tacoma caught my eye. I love how she captures stark branches and winter trees. And her pieces have rustic wood frames/mounts that I liked.
Sarah Hillock: Booth K-24
Sarah Hillock's huge paintings of farm animals (mostly cows, from what I saw) done on mylar, were maybe the most striking, unique thing at the entire OOAK show. I've never seen anything like Hillock's work in person before, and I have to say, I've never wanted a huge painting of a cow more. I mean... they're cows. And I'm a city girl. Yet I want one. Immediately.
Pepper Mills: Booth G-03
The name Pepper Mills kind of speaks for itself. These handmade, OOAK wood objects by Cam Lavers Designs Inc. aren't new to the show, but I've always liked them.
Him by Shima Itabashi: Booth D-5
I know I said I was going to stay away from cutie-pie felted things, but this booth's wee decorations spoke to me more than the works of other felt artists doing similar things. There's something really authentic and adorable about Him pieces and designer Shima Itabashi seems like a sweetheart. Her English isn't perfect, but that just adds to the charm.
Ateliers des Cent-ans: Booth C-36
This booth was a bit spare, but what I saw of the porcelain and wood pieces inside definitely left an impression. The stuff I loved most was delicate and white, with slim blue nautical patterning. Very chic.
Grace Eunmie Lee: Booth C-44
Some of Grace Eunmie Lee's wee white ceramics are highlighted with bits of shiny metallic and colour, but her monochrome pieces are my favourites. I love their small stature and weird, offbeat cuteness. Some of these wee works are merely decorative, while others are functional (salt and pepper shakers, for example).
Evelyne Rivest Savignac: Booth I-37
Interestingly, while I initially passed this booth during my official "go down every aisle" run, I didn't stop at it the first time around. I'm not sure why. Maybe the crowds were too thick and I didn't get a good look. Happily, I needed to hit a bank machine before leaving which took me on a second trip down row "i" and that's when I noticed Evelyne Rivest Savignac's pretty ceramics. The artist told me she's been a vendor at the show for the last eight years, so if you've been in the past, you may remember her. I was especially charmed by her little leafy bowls. They have the vibe of something sold at Anthropologie (but are much more authentic, of course).
And that's IT.
Honestly, I saw some other stuff I liked (bow-ties by Genuine Article
, for example.) but I just can't write about any more. This is already the most unwieldy blog post I've ever written.
Go to the show. Enjoy. Support your indie artists and crafty friends. And remember, wear comfy shoes. And if you're not too exhausted afterwards, tell me what you got!
P.S. Sorry about the lighting in some of these shots. I'm no photographer and since artists provide their own light at each booth, dimness is an issue.
P.P.S. Shout-outs to my web friends Jen @ Rambling Renovators
and Staci @ Switch Studio
for letting me talk their ears off at breakfast, Pam @ Cherish Toronto
for being my favourite person to run into at these things, and House & Home magazine staffer/editor Margot Austin
(who I may or may not have terrified when I declared "I'm obsessed with you!" - because I'm the sort of weirdo who says things like that, apparently). Sigh.
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!
I've been wanting to experiment with felting for a long time now, but I've hesitated because it seemed like... well, like a lot of work, frankly. All that poking and knotting. All the necessary felting accoutrement. But I was recently alerted to a potential felting shortcut and I just had to try it. Here's what you do:
Here, let me show you.First, we have the initial object: a crochet woolen hat, which I got from Goodwill. I meant to wear it. It was lovely. Warm. And itchy as all get out.
- Get something made of wool (like an old hat).
- Wash the heck out of it in hot water and soap (in the washing machine).
- What comes out? Felt! Mold it to the shape you want and let dry.
So, I decided to say goodbye.
Into the washing machine it went. Wash wash wash. Dry dry dry. I ran it through a good five times. (I didn't want to waste water or power by running washes exclusively for this project, so I waited until I had light loads of regular laundry to do. So the whole washing process ended up taking awhile. But obviously, if you were feeling impatient, you could speed things up a bit.)
The result? Felt!
I cut the rim/brim off with plain kitchen shears and voila - a bowl.
Fabulous for fall, if you ask me (which you didn't, but let's pretend you did).
I'm pretty proud of this project. Easy and highly satisfying. Just my style. You like?
So remember when I posted about my rug dilemma
? I was trying to decide between a few different options from Structube. The whole debate turned out to be moot because Nate decided to buy me a hide rug (which I've long longed for) for my birthday. It's funny, in a way. Just when I finally abandoned the idea of having a hide rug (after years and years of wanting one, but hesitating because of the price, the ethics of it, and my resistance to all thing trendy AND "on trend"), AFTER all that, a hide came into my life.
It's tri-colour (that is to say, brown, black, and cream). I'd always imagined I'd end up with something black and white. Or perhaps mottled grey. But tri-colour, it turns out, it just right. The brown (which is sort of stripey, like a tabby cat), feels warm, and despite the pattern, it reads almost like a neutral. It's soft underfoot and doesn't slide around.
I really, REALLY like it. Makes me feel a little guilty, actually.
Here it is on a typically untidy weekend morning at my apartment:
What say you? Hidey hidey hidey ho!
Usually, I'm not much of a Structube
person. (Structube, for those who haven't heard of it, is 35+ year old retailer of contemporary/modern furniture and accessories.) It's relatively affordable, but often too cold for my tastes. I like modern, but not TOO modern, if you know what I mean.That said, I recently came across a few Structube rugs that are really speaking to me. For example, this $349, 5x8' wool rug (available in both black and white):
I'm not sure why I like it so much, I just know that I do.
Another option is this zebra patterned wool rug, also 5x8', also $349, which would be a great upgrade from the polyester runner I currently have in my living room:
I've long wanted a hide rug for the space, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it would be a bit off-putting (especially for my vegan friends). With that in mind, I'm considering all three of the rugs above. Which do you think would work best? The light one would probably get too dirty... And remember, my living room currently looks like this:
The runner I have isn't so bad, especially as far as $20 solutions go, but I'm itching for a change.
Is Structube the answer? Any thoughts?
EDITED TO ADD:
Check out this quick mock up my friend Patty did. Neat right?
I know it's slightly annoying of me to keep posting and boasting about my awesome thrift store finds.But
I just can't help it! I find some of the neatest stuff at Goodwill and the like. (I'm no Rashon Carraway - a.k.a. Mr. Goodwill Hunting
, but I'm no slouch.) So it's impossible to "keep shut" about it (as my moms used to say). Anyway.
My latest find came from my local Sally Anne. I popped in for a quick tool around in order to see if the store had any refurbishable pieces in the furniture department for the Pete Project
. They didn't. What they DID have was a set of bedding. Natural linen (sort of a light sand shade), embroidered with seemingly African-inspired animals. The set was in perfect condition, free of stains and clearly never used. I paid $14.99 for the duvet cover and $2 for the pillow cases. So all in all, it cost less than $20.
initially, I thought the bedding might suit Pete, since it's relatively tribal and manly. However, once I got it home, I started to do a bit of research and now that I know what I've got, I selfishly want to keep it for myself.
It's House of Anin
(Casa Anin) bedding, hand-embroidered in Namibia. The company calls itself a "bespoke" operation. I wonder if that means they're fair trade? Regardless, it looks like you can only buy it directly, so I'm gusssing someone who went on holiday to Africa must have brought this bedding home in their suitcase, which is pretty neat.While initially, I just liked it, as the days pass, I fall more and more in love. Instead of giving it to Pete, I might box it up and save it for my someday cottage.
What do you think? You like?
* Images of different Casa Anin embroidery motifs from the company website.
I have a new obsession: granny square afghans. It's completely bizarre. Every time I see one kicking around at Goodwill or the Sally Anne, I think... 'Wow. That is SO granny!'
And then I buy it.
It's a sickness! It's like I've caught some sort of extremely robust granny blanket bug.
I bring the blankets home, Nathan looks at me like I've lost my mind, then I box them up and put them away. Because at the moment, there's really no place for granny blankets in my house.
I have no idea why I'm doing this. In the back of my mind, there's some vague notion of a future cottage, nursery, etc., but in the real world - the world of today - granny blankets don't suit me at all.
And really... do they suit ANYBODY? Anybody who's NOT actually a granny?
So my question to you is this: is there room in a chic life for the granny blanket?
You tell me.