Monday, January 31, 2011

Eco-Shopping: Worth it?

I have a hard time distinguishing between relentless "greenwashing" (the fraudulent act of claiming environmental friendliness just for the sake of sale trends) and knowing that a product truly is making a significant improvement over its chemical-laden counterpart. Cleaning supplies get me every time because I hate to knowingly fill the air with toxins when my very motivation to rid our space of dirt was for our family's safety. No? Also, food.

Areas that I have a harder time knowing the benefits of: clothing and furniture. It won't take me two seconds to admit that a very large part of my hesitation is price related. Is it possible that I'm talking about an unknown opportunity cost?? {Note: Microeconomics was just proved useful, and Professor Maryanne Meiners may have one redeeming quality for having successfully conveyed that concept. No charge for that vocab lesson.}

This brings me to a company I happened over today via Design*Sponge, where a spectacular yellow lacquered stool was featured. Upon reviewing the Branch Home store, I noticed the commitment to sustainability they share, and how all products comply with this standard in really cool ways. Had I physically entered the store, my hands would have been empty and my pocketbook pleasantly surprised with me. Living right is spendy, apparently. Some of my favorite pieces:

Set of stools, fair-trade, handmade in India from recycled materials:Basil "Garden-In-A-Bag" with all organic materials:

A Really, Really, Really pretty wool blanket:
Ok, let's be honest. I don't like this one. It's too, ahem, phallic.This is possibly the most fun pillow on the planet, plus it has recycled filling and is printed sustainably on organic cotton:
And whoa -- vintage leather belts on recycled backing. This is a rug, people. So awesome:
Ohhhing and Ahhhing aside, let's be real: Would you spend three or four times more and feel like your money on that did the most good for our planet? Your household safety? What's a better expense in your mind?

This was in no way a sponsored post. Clearly, as I probably would have deterred sales, and the people behind this company do not know I exist.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I don't have a friggin clue

Here's the middle bedroom. It has some janky 70's wallpaper over the janky original 1958 wallpaper, and numerous dime-size holes in the wall.

While it is currently great for storage, and will be a perfect office space, file it under the I-pledge-to-not-care-about-this-til-Spring spot. Whatever we do, it will be so much more efficient than the office in our last house.

At move-in:

The wallpaper and hole situation:

And the reality, this one actually worsened as the others improved. We are working out of it and we make the living spaces more livable.

As of yesterday:

There was barely room to walk, but its state of seeming disorder has allowed us to organize the rest of the house as we go. Such a lucky space to have! As it is the third bedroom, the last homeowners actually said they just used it as a closet, and permanently set up an ironing board! What a good idea!

I spent a while clearing it out and preparing to organize yesterday. Isn't it silly to say you organized your stuff so that it could be organized later?? Anyhow, at present:

I'm fine with this for a while! Let's get real. It just isn't as necessary.

Symphony Showhouse Plans

This evening should bring the Undecorated Symphony Showhouse Preview Party, weather permitting. In honor of this possible, but unlikely (again with the weather) occasion, I thought I'd share my plans for the space!

The room is a bar and/or butler's pantry that's approximately 12' x 12'. While that's average for a bedroom or so in most of of homes, I'm quite confident that I'm responsible for the least amount of space in this renovation!

As you enter the estate, this room is Immediately to the right, as part of the east wing. The hallway presently is in this state:

Standing in the door of the butler's pantry, you face 1/3 of the formal living room:

Getting back to the bar itself:

Black marble floors, black granite counters, gold swan sink and faucet fixture, and really dated hunter green wallpaper.

From the view of the other rooms, you can see that the woodwork is a vital texture and architectural element throughout most of the home. For this reason, I'll be leaving it as it is. Otherwise, my changes look like this:

An explanation: The sink and faucet are an interesting touch that are too unique to ditch, though I probably would not have ever thought to choose them. Counters, granite and glass shelves also stay. The wallpaper I've chosen is vintage and the new hardware is recycled, hammered iron in a semigloss black. The recycled glass tile backsplash will be installed between the counter and shelving, as is usual. His collection of crystal will remain on display, and across the room from this view is a small bar area, above which will hang this large print from local photographer Samantha Lamb!! We will be more creative with the framing than shown here, so that'll be a surprise for you. I think this photo is crucial, along with the lighter colored walls, for opening up the space, almost as if there was a window in the room that opened up to the ocean. Above that photo will hang the shown chandelier that is neither too masculine nor feminine for this space. Lastly, I'll be arranging some fresh local blooms in an antique pitcher for the countertop.

I think the small dungeon of a room needs life and breath! I'll keep you posted with my attempts to resuscitate.

Because you asked: it's Miller Time!

Surely we'll come up with something better for our house than just using the street's name, but for now, yes -- I just referenced a tacky, over-referenced beer commercial.

Here are the images that were posted on the realty website that show the house as we first saw it. Our hearts welled up with joy when we saw those cedar beams! The front and back gardens are more than we can believe -- I giggled like a school girl at the sight of them. (Puts our 4' x 6' raised bed veggie garden from last year to absolute shame.)

And if you know me at all, you know I could explain these pictures to death, but I won't. Here's our house as the last owners had it.

Ahem. I love the yards.


The Opportunity: Oklahoma City's 2011 Symphony Showhouse Fundraiser for the Philharmonic League

The Structure: Numerous designers submit proposals for the chance to do one room in a glorious estate. If chosen, they work for the cause and are supplied with no materials, but rather work with vendors to have things donated. The home is worked on for a few months, beginning in February, by this network of the city's elite designers then tickets are sold for a month of home tours - May 2011. This year they expect around 10,000 visitors.

The Scary Part: They picked me.

New Beginnings [like the Andy Osenga song]

Last weekend, B and I choked back a few surprising tears and said goodbye to our first married house. It was a rental (that we loved for its location and undeniable quirkiness) but more importantly, it was home.

Yes, it was a sore thumb in Bethany, Oklahoma. So what?
To see the end of our journey there, you can visit my Album of Afters.

What we haven't mentioned much about is the WHY of this move. Ahem, it seems I own a pair of big girl britches after all, and I have worn them two whole times: to get married to that bearded crazy I like so much, and to close on our first house!!

We've lived in this "hotel" of a house for less than a week, and have gone to great lengths to make it feel like our own. Obviously, it still doesn't feel real, or I wouldn't be calling it a hotel. I'm thinking I'll share the transformation, in its bitterness and it's glory. Before's and after's, gosh awful wrongs and very rights. The whole place has already been painted (only because we have incredible friends with the true heart of a servant), I have no shortage of DIY projects up my sleeve (even some building, insert collective ohhs and ahhs), intense gardens to maintain, and a handful of weddings. That last one has nothing to do with the house. Oops.

{{For instance, soon I'd like to turn some scrapped wooden crates that are free on Craigslist into a style like one of these, for our living room--

Both images from, from whom I am also getting the tutorial.

The decision to paint or leave fantastic and unpredictably weathered hasn't been made yet. We will be placing in front of our dark, chic distressed leather couch with nailhead trim, over this rug --

alongside these brilliant Herman Miller reproductions that were a stupid good steal, also at Overstock --

But all of this is premature -- you haven't seen the house yet! How I forget my manners...}}

More to come, friends. Much, much more. In fact, I practically have exciting announcements for the next week. Slight exaggeration, but it's a fun place to be. No. I'm not pregnant.

-- ashley sue, now reporting from Miller Place