To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Pt. 2 - My New Sofa Bed

Hi people! Well, I've taken another step toward a completed apartment. I bought a sleeper sofa today.
I found it on Craigslist and it was only $50! I've been scrolling through the sofa bed listings there for a week or two, looking for a vintage sofa that would have the right flavor for the scheme I'm planning. It wasn't easy! Sofas tend to be somewhat perishable, so finding one dating back that far is tricky. I waded through relatively new, and somewhat bland offerings from Crate and Barrel and Jennifer Convertibles, slightly older models from the 80's with lots of over stuffed cushions and button tufting, and leather sectionals with recliners built in. I knew if I kept at it I would find what I needed. Indeed, this little model appeared this week and I was intrigued enough to take a look.

The proportions are very 70's, but it's simple enough to be somewhat timeless, so at first I wasn't sure if it was period or not. The owner had bought it second hand as well, but was under the impression that it had been new in 2004. Further examination proved this to be false, much to my pleasure!
Ball casters always look 70's to me. They were on everything that wasn't nailed down back then. This piece has them on the front, but not the back. This was my first clue that it wasn't new.
The graphics on the mattress clinched it. The space age logo and tag line "Motif - Contemporary as Tomorrow" just screams 1970.

It's upholstered in a mottled faux brown suede, typical of the period and the inside of the frame sports an inventory tag with a swatch of the upholstery stapled to it, and the inventory numbers typed on it with a typewriter, which is further evidence of it's pedigree.

I'm excited to welcome it into my home and will eventually reupholster it to suit my decorating scheme. I'm thinking dark grey with contrast piping. I'm also going to replace the mattress with an Air Dream. It should make sleeping in it almost like sleeping in a real bed!


Time Travel Made Possible - A Trip to New York in 1971

I live on 23rd Street, across from the Chelsea Hotel. Today, they're shooting a film with the hotel as a backdrop. It's Cinema Verite, due to be released in 2012, about the lives of the Louds - the subject of America's first reality television show in 1971. Lance Loud lived in the Chelsea Hotel, so they're doing a lot of different set ups. It's fascinating to see what they've done to 23rd St!
They're using so much of the street for background and they've redressed the store windows to reflect the period.
This one is normally an ink cartridge store. I love the stickers that say they accept Bank Americard and Master Charge
This one is a salon.
I've been having fun photographing the changes, and if you frame the shots just right it looks like you've shot a period photograph. The only giveaway in this shot is the extra holding her iPhone.
The period effect is exaggerated with a little work in photoshop. This photo of extras in front of a bank with a VW in the foreground looks period enough as it is, but remove the color and add a bit of blur and some grain...
...and it's like a news paper image from 1971
Here's another remarkable shot. I took this one from my fire escape during one of their shots. The cars are all period. The only giveaways are the crew members in shorts and the new stroller on the sidewalk. Give it the same treatment and...
...after a bit of a crop you have a 70's film still.

It's been fun to see all the hard work they're putting into this film. I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's a fascinating subject!


Simple and Oh So Tasty - Hal's Chicken Salad

My good friend Hal is a good cook. One of my favorite recipes of his is his chicken salad. It's a very simple recipe, what makes it so good is the ingredients he uses. He introduced me to this tinned chicken he buys from Cost Co. It comes in 12.5 oz cans and is sold in shrink wrapped sets of 6. It's just delicious!
Now Hal loves to travel and his wanderlust has afforded him the luxury of Micronesian pepper. This is his other secret ingredient for the chicken salad. I don't have that luxury, so I just use fresh ground pepper in mine. Here's his recipe:

You'll need:

Two cans of Kirkland chunk chicken breast
3 Tbs mayonnaise
Fresh ground pepper
Kosher salt
Salted cashews for garnish

Begin by draining two cans of chicken and putting the chunks in the bowl. Crush the chunks with a fork until they're shredded. Add the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Season with the fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Serve on a plate garnished with a lettuce leaf and sprinkle the salad with salted cashew nuts.

This is a delightful light lunch dish. The cashews give the salad a sparkle and crunch that adds to the flavor nicely. Because the dish is so simple, it's important to make sure that your ingredients are top notch. You can substitute sea salt for kosher salt if you wish, and if you find a source for Micronesian pepper let me know!

Those are my linen tablecloth check napkins up there with that salad. They're great for summer entertaining.


Grand Designs in a Tiny Town - Architecture in Owego NY

Hi people! I spent the weekend visiting my friend Bradford in the tiny little New York town of Owego. It's between Binghamton and Ithaca right off route 17.
Bradford splits his time between New York City and Owego, where he bought this charming little building a few years ago.
Now the town may be tiny, but they sure knew how to be grand back around the turn of the last century! There are some amazing houses on the two main streets just outside the business district. I spent some time with Bradford and his friend Jean driving around and photographing them.
This is one of my favorites. It's pristine white and the columns and formal plantings give it such an imposing air. Perfect for entertaining! Most of these houses aren't made of wood, they're brick! It really brings to mind old Hollywood.
This is another one that I found to be charming. If you look down the driveway you'll see a two story carriage house. Wouldn't that be a lovely place for an art studio?
This one looks like it's right out of the English country side - one of those foreboding structures that could be a school or the setting of a murder mystery. The stone work around the windows is very interesting.
This is a bit of a departure from the norm for Owego. It's an Arts and Crafts bungalow, which was a much more casual style and very modern for the period. Despite it's casual air, it's quite a grand residence.
If you're in the market, this one is for sale. It's completely redone and quite beautiful inside, I've been told. The asking price? Remarkably, only $300,000!
Bradford is a talented photographer. He was the one who shot the Vertigo series and the Some Like It Hot series for Out Traveler - both featuring yours truly. He helped me take some of the pictures of the houses, and I managed to snag this shot of him. That concrete post to his left is an old hitching post from the days of horses. So much of Owego is preserved so nicely. It's worth a visit if you get up to the area.

There are more new listings up on eBay. I've just listed some more of the wardrobe from the show and there's some great jewelry up now too... Have a look!

Prints for a Pretty Pad - Fabric Choices for my Renovation

Hi people! I've been going through some of the fabric I set aside for the apartment renovation. I know it's a bit pre-mature to be thinking about fabric before the construction is complete, but it keeps me going... I thought I'd show you some of my favorite possibilities.
This one is very chic - sort of a Roman revival style from the early 60's. I love the rich blue with shades of gray in them. The circles look sort of like coins to me. There isn't enough for upholstery or curtains, but it's perfect for accent pillows, don't you think?
This is one of my favorites. I love the wandering, painterly pattern and the color palate is so sophisticated. The scale of it is enormous as well. The repeat is so large, only two repeats fit on one width of fabric. There's enough of it to do over a small accent chair or hassock too! Expect to see it featured in the new scheme.
Here's a fun pattern that might work in my kitchen. It's a bit bright, and perhaps a bit off message if I use the gray print above in the living room. I like it though. It has that colonial quality that I enjoy so much.
This will probably be my kitchen fabric. I have enough for curtains and accessories like pot holders and appliance covers. I love the old style labels on the simple off white ground. I also love the color palate.

I love vintage prints. They seem so much more unique to me and have an air of affluence to them that can't be matched pricewise by buying new. You can find great vintage prints on eBay and Etsy. It can be hit or miss with yardage, but the more you look the more you'll find and eventually you'll find the quantity you need.

It may be a while before you see me implement these choices. We still have to re-do the kitchen, install the new appliances, put in some built-ins and carpeting, among other things. It'll take some time, but I'm excited about tackling it!

I'm selling still off some of my extraneous belongings to help fund the renovation. Right now you'll find some great jewelry and vintage clothing up on eBay. Have a look!

Mid Century Style Straight From the Source - My Grandparents Glamorous House

Have you seen I was introduced to it through Twitter last week and browsing through the nostalgic pictures of vintage 60's and 70's kitchens I was reminded of my grandparents house on Westchester Park Drive in Springfield, Ohio. Don't get me wrong, they were anything but hippies - you couldn't get much more establishment than my grandfather. It was just the vintage quality of the photos that brought it to mind. Their house was a big inspiration to me, and I still find myself referring to it when I work on design projects. I pulled together a few photographs of it to share here, and as I unpack and find others I may share them as well.
Here's the living room. They had a long, low wall that divided it into two different conversation areas. One was two steps lower than the other. The wall was covered with an ever growing collection of objet d'art. Notice the Asian symbol on the door. It was a feature throughout the house and coordinated with the symbols set into the poured terrazzo floor. I love the Hollywood regency hardware on the cabinet doors!

Here's another photo of the living room, looking the other way. That's my grandmother, by the way. The two white poles in the background are actually the chimney for a fireplace. It was never used because it smoked up the house. In the background over grandma's shoulder you see an Eames lounger, and to her right, the base of a Saarinen chair - their dining set. That far wall was warmly paneled in wood.
Outside was a terra-cotta tile patio that took up the whole yard. It was surrounded with a low concrete block wall that was plastered and painted to match the terra-cotta. The yard was lit with all sorts of colored flood lights in bullet shaped fixtures. Grandma is standing in front of a sun screen that my mother made panels for. The design she used was one of my drawings of a boy fishing in a stream - why I chose that subject, I have no idea...
Set into the patio was a kidney shaped pool. My grandmother used to swim the breast stroke in it every day, all summer, careful, of course, to keep her hair dry. That's my grandfather on the left. Behind him were three red wood cabanas with corrugated green fiberglass roofs. One was for the filter equipment, one for pool toys and the last was for changing. They had sliding wood doors with primitive style figures of bronze depicting hunting scenes on each one.

I think this is where I got my love of MCM and Hollywood Regency. It was a glamorous house and my grandparents entertained a lot. I still have some of the things from that house, and I was pleased that on a visit to Springfield, when we drove by, it looked like the new owners appreciated the mid-century style of the house.

It's fun to revisit old photos. They can help you detect how you became you! Why not dig into some of your own?