where green living, parenthood, and interiors intersect

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AT's Design Showcase 2011

I love to support independent designers and unique ideas. (Especially over the mass market products created in the Walmart board rooms of the world!) The eponymous home site Apartment Therapy runs an annual Design Showcase giving exposure to dozens of such designers, which I suppose is slightly more impressive than me showcasing cool things I found here which get read about only by my sister and mother. :)

The voting for Apartment Therapy's Design Showcase 2011 closes Friday September 30th, so head on over to AT and vote for favorite. And while you're at it, please help me decide between the oh-so-practical Prop (currently #2) and the beautiful Shilpa Rathi vegetable-dyed organic cotton bedding collection (currently #3). Everyone I know with an Apple laptop could certainly use the Prop but the planet as a whole needs more organic cotton products ASAP. And anything to nudge out the current #1 product, The Ultimate Cat Scratcher/Lounger. The world does not, I repeat, does NOT need a(nother) luxury cat bed/scratcher.

One more thing, if I could vote for a product that didn't make the top cut, it would be the Chipmunk Turntable by Joel Scilley, which is neither that practical or eco-friendly but it's just plain rad-looking.

Currently #2: The Prop by Nicholas Pajerski & Justin Brouillette

Currently #3: Belize/Chaurus Duvet Cover Set by Shilpa Rathi

Please do not vote for The Ultimate Cat Scratcher/Lounger shown here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Color: Gold

I was too busy with my current interior design projects to post anything last week, so this week I'm making up for it by going for the gold, so to speak. Today's Monday Color is an overdose on my favorite metallic; I found so many great inspiration rooms and home accessories in this hue that I could probably highlight it for the next month. It's a daring color to use in large amounts, so I tried to focus on interiors with gold accents that are high-impact yet livable (with the exception of NYC's Gold Bar.....clearly no one could live there!). The furniture and accent pieces I found range from bold to subtle, showing the variety of ways to incorporate more shine into one's home.

Images above:

1. Gold damask pattern wallpaper inset into wall panels is the perfect backdrop for this lush avocado green velvet sofa.

2. A high-impact gold leaf wall and stunning peacock blue wing back chair.

3. Gold frames and other accents get toned down by the mostly white palette of this living room found on Decor Pad.

4. What else but a gold tile tub would work in this dramatic all-black bathroom?

5. & 6. New York City's Gold Bar and a detail of its wall of gold skulls.

7. Martyn Lawrence-Bullard designed this global-inspired gold, black and white bedroom for Tamara Mellon, founder of Jimmy Choo.

8. Gold velvet vintage sofa found on Trendey Decor is an odd but perfect mix with old biology charts, modern occasional tables and wide plank floors.

9. A small space like a powder room is the perfect place for a heavy dose of gold.

10. A classic chesterfield in gold metallic leather by Springvale Leather in the UK.

11. This gold graffiti-inspired wardrobe is a custom commission by Jimmie Martin Ltd.

12. Gold Metallic Squares Pillow from pillowsandthrows.com

13. Perhaps the easiest way to introduce a flash of gold into any style interior, a gold sunburst mirror (Worlds Away Gold Sunburst Mirror from Live. Like. You.)

14. Antique gold finish Bird on a Branch Candleholders from Horchow.

15. Areaware's gold cast Banana Bowl from Amazon.

16. Bring some shine into your kids room with Zid Zid's gold metallic owl-themed ottoman.

17. Gold Metallic Hourglass from Z Gallerie (also available in silver).

18. The gold Aurora Dinnerware Collection from Viva Terra is made from recycled glass.

19. Ulu Convex Table from Jonathan Adler.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Deck the Walls

Two of my current clients are looking to create memorabilia and photo-filled collage walls, so I've been scouring the internet for inspiration while they lovingly collect family portraits, theatre tickets and their children's first scribbles. It seems that are no rules for the perfect grouping, other than DO NOT RUSH. The collection is the most important, which must be gathered and edited with great care. Then the chosen pieces and one's decor will dictate framing style, quantity and layout. It's a totally organic process with infinitely possible results. Here are a few of my favorite inspiration walls:

A wall in designer Scott Newkirk's home, found on Remodelista.

In this image, found on Traditional Home, designer Tobi Fairly proves that framed objects need not be 2-dimensional (like this collection of found seashells) and that the frames can steal the show.

Unified frames hung in a neat grid allow endless possibilities for color and photographic content.

Classic black and white photos in black frames on a white wall is always a fool-proof choice for a cohesive look.

But black frames also have the power to unify the most eclectic groupings on lively striped walls as well.

From Creative Index, ledges like those in this image are an ingenious solution for anyone who wants to continually rotate memorabilia and photographs.

Check out the helpful how-to on Boston's Apartment Therapy behind this AT reader's collage wall.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Etsy Love: Evolving Habitat

Happy Saturday everyone! I'm excited to feature a local Long Beach, NY artisan on today's Etsy Love post. Meri Vallo's company Evolving Habitat combines her passion for designing unique home goods and following sustainable practices to leave her creative mark in this world, which is exactly what I comb Etsy each week to find. It's an added bonus to find someone who lives right down the street to shine the spotlight on.

Evolving Habitat offers several unique treasures that breathe new life into reclaimed, salvaged and found materials. While Meri's creations continue to evolve, her core offerings include light boxes and pieces made from naturally shed antlers, with new lines in clothing and other home accessories continually added to the mix. Every Evolving Habitat piece harnesses the raw beauty of nature and the creative possibilities of re-use.

The softly illuminating "Birds of Snow" Light Box makes the perfect night light, designed to bring an imaginitive thought and a beautifull scene into your mind before you go to sleep at night.

Using naturally-shed white tail deer antlers from a Texas ranch mounted onto salvaged woods, Evolving Habitat offers these one-of-a-kind freestanding and wall-mounted decorative pieces that are beautiful on their own or can fulfill a limitless number of useful functions.

Clearly inspired by Meri's intimate love of nature and her life at the beach, she creates unique Cactus and Succulent Terrariums on a custom order basis.

An example of the new clothing line from Evolving Habitat featuring pieces hand-made by creative team member Jenna Derosa in natural, organic and salvaged fabrics, this Warrior Hood is a versatile poncho in 100% linen with fine burnt out lines running through it.

An Evolving Habitat logo tote bag and a shot of their regular weekend booth at Williamsburg's Artists and Fleas where this and all Evolving Habitat's offerings can be found in person.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 12 Personal Care Product Ingredients to Avoid

Did you know that 1/3 of the personal care products on the market contain at least one ingredient linked to cancer? Or that only 20% of the chemicals in personal care products have been tested for safety? I'll just say it: I think this is scary and WRONG. I personally chose to stop being part of this mass toxicological experiment when I stopped using all conventional products. This may not be the answer for you, but at least you can educate yourself with the increasing amount of information out there and make more informed choices.

Natural Home & Garden just published an incredibly poignant online article written by Kelly Lerner and Alli Kingfisher about the dangerous ingredients lurking in personal care products. The list of the top 12 ingredients to avoid contained in the article appears below, information I feel it is my responsibility to pass along. It's time to start bringing awareness to what we're putting in and on our bodies. Please familiarize yourself with this list and if you have a few more moments, I invite you to read the whole story here.

1) Prefixes Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl or Propyl
What It Is: Parabens
Health Risks: Endocrine disrupters that mimic estrogen; linked to weight gain and breast cancer
Found In: Lotions and shampoos

2) Fragrance, DEHP, DHP, DBP 5, Dibutyl Phthalate
What It Is: Phthalates
Health Risks: Sperm damage, infertility
Found In: Nail polish, shampoo, deodorant, lotion

3) Dyes: Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33
What It Is: Coal tar
Health Risks: Carcinogenic
Found In: Hair color, medicated shampoos

4) Triclosan, Chloro, Phenol, Irgasan
What It Is: Triclosan
Health Risks: Endocrine and thyroid disrupter; promotes antibiotic-resistant bacteria; bioaccumulates in the body
Found In: Antibacterial soap, shampoo, facial cleanser, toothpaste, deodorant

5) 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), bexophenome-3 (Bp-3), homosalate (HMS)
What It Is: Sunscreen chemicals
Health Risks: Estrogenic activity; enhances the potential for pesticides to penetrate the skin
Found In: Sunscreens

6) Polyethylene glycol (PEG, PPG, Cocoate), propylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene mineral oil
What It Is: Petroleum byproducts
Health Risks: Carcinogen; liver and kidney effects
Found In: Lotions

7) Petrolatum
What It Is: Derivative of petroleum
Health Risks: Endocrine disrupter; carcinogen
Found In: Lotions

8) Lead acetate, thimerosal, mercurius solubilis, mercurius sublimates, mercurius corrosives, mercuric chloride
What It Is: Lead and mercury
Health Risks: Found in higher levels in women with breast cancer; neurotoxin
Found In: Hair color, wound treatments, artificial tears

9) Isobutene
What It Is: Propellant made from petroleum processing
Health Risks: Carcinogen
Found In: Moisturizer, shaving cream, foot spray, breath freshener

10) Placenta
What It Is: Placenta, placental enzymes, placental extract
Health Risks: Filled with hormones that upset your own balance and increase estrogen
Found In: Skin and hair conditioner

11) Hydroquinone
What It Is: Hydroquinone
Health Risks: Can cause a skin disease called ochronosis
Found In: Skin whitener

12) Nano zinc oxide <100mm
What It Is: Nanoparticles
Health Risks: The safety of nanoparticles has not been tested, but they can cross the blood/brain barrier and move along nerves.
Found In: Sunscreens, lotions

If you're as disheartened and overwhelmed as I've gotten in the past looking over this list, please consider contacting me about Shaklee products, in which NONE of these ingredients can be found. They are naturally safe and effective, ensuring you never have to wonder what's lurking in your bathroom vanity again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bamboo Holds Water

Every day I see more and more people toting reusable water bottles around and it makes me very happy. Hopefully we are finally making a dent in the quantity of water bottles that were piling up in our landfills. It also makes me happy to find new products coming into this market niche that make reusable bottle use more sustainable, more sanitary and more stylish. So I was grinning ear to ear when I stumbled upon the Bamboo Bottle Co. Their bamboo-encased drinking bottle is beautiful and extremely practical. A 51% recycled glass vessel is dish-washer safe and insulating, so you can use the bottle for hot tea or ice-cold water. Wait, I have to stress the dishwasher part.....because until now I've spent many cumulative hours wedging a bottle brush down into the narrow openings of my steel bottles. The wide-mouthed glass insert thrown into my dishwasher just sounds so much easier. The highly renewable and aesthetically pleasing bamboo part stays out of the dishwasher but is easy to wipe clean when necessary. The limited plastic parts are all BPA-free and recyclable. Drink up!!

The generous 17 ounce Bamboo Bottle Co bottle is available through the company's site directly for $25 plus S&H, but I also found it here for only $20.38 with free S&H.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Color: Army Green

I couldn't make up my mind, so today's Monday Color was selected by my 6 year old son from one of my decks of paint colors. He usually gravitates toward red (his favorite color) or various shades of blue, but to my surprise his little finger skimmed over those color families and landed on Fatique (the Benjamin Moore color shown above).

Perhaps he was reading my mind, as the cooling temperatures in recent days have me excited about donning my lightweight army-issued parka again. And year after year it's one of my most beloved neutrals, along with blue (denim), white and gray. But it's not a color I've used much in my own home or in design projects. So, as usual, I'm using my Monday Color post to explore outside my own experience and find inspiration in a new color. Army Green, as I'm calling it, has many different personalities: sometimes its yellow undertones swing it toward its Olive cousin, but usually its a somber green with a cool gray cast. The rooms and home products below run the full spectrum of this intense hue.

Images above:

1. This velvet tufted headboard in army green (found on decor pad) is softened by sheer white curtains and shiny mirrored side tables.

2. These army green velvet couches are soft and sensual but have the power to ground this whole living room, found on elledecor.com.

3. Nate Burkus' Chicago kitchen is deliciously warm yet masculine.

4. Crisp white trim brings a fresh look to the historical army green exterior of this Victorian home.

5. All the accent colors - from the black, yellow and white table lamps to the bright coral pillows - are unexpected compliments to the army green walls in this living room.

6. Forest Green Print from Ballard Designs.

7. Green Cross Hemp and Kapok Pillow from Enhabiten on Etsy.

8. Atelier Chesterfield Sofa in Bottle Green from Anthropologie.

9. The Moroccan-inspired pattern on Z Gallerie's Mimosa Bedding looks fresh in this army green and white combination.

10. Langford Throw in Olive from Crate & Barrel is a heather mix of army green and brighter olive.

11. A vintage typewriter is even more alluring in army green.