Friday, July 28, 2006

Bonus Bone: Peeling Paint

Ravenswood, Chicago, IL
Some might look at this house and think, "Geesh, hire a painter already!" But I look at this house and think, "Gosh, I hope they're going to seal that."

I love peeling paint. I like it scraped up, worn away, and multilayered. This paint treatment (and, yes, I call it a "treatment") is the epitome of unorchestrated beauty. This house was probably once a solid robin's egg blue, the wood all slick and sealed to shine. But then it rained and snowed and, summer after summer, the sun beat down upon the house. The wood started to fray, splinter, and bend against itself, pulling in tighter to hide from the elements. At some point, a diligent owner may have climbed up on a ladder and, with all the best intentions, tried to scrape away at the old layers to make room for the new. What's left is either the mid-point of an exterior paint project or, in my eyes, one clear coat away from perfection.

I gaze upon this house and I'm thrust into a feverish August afternoon where the winds grab violently at the hem of my dress as I gather candles and run to hide in the cellar until the storm passes. I also think of just "settin'" out on the porch with an iced 'ade, shelling peas, listening to the scratch and hum of a record playing just on the other side of the wall. There's a romance, a depth, and a history here that newly painted houses simply cannot emulate.

For these reasons, I, Cardboard, declare this a Design Boner.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Which dresser should Porcelain get?

I've been searching for the perfect vintage or antique dresser for awhile. My current dresser has been with me since I was 13 and it is about time for a change. I want something in decent condition, is under $500, holds a fair amount of clothes, and is either antique or vintage.

I recently found two dressers that are possible contenders. #1 Looks to be in great shape and is a heck of a deal. #2 Is a little bit more expensive, but not too badly priced for a dresser. It is swanky and out of the two choices more my style. Both dressers speak to me. #1 for its age and memories. #2 for its style, swank and sophistication.

Which dresser do you think I should try to get? #1 or #2? Please leave your votes in the comment section.

UPDATE: I waited too long to contact the sellers and now both posts have been deleted. Thanks for your comments. The search continues and next time I won't be so lazy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Holy green chaise, Batman!

Boutonniere Chaise


This is quite a green chaise, a new piece of furniture available at Crate and Barrel. Imagine laying on this and telling Dr. Freud all of your issues with your Mom and strange dreams you are having. That bold color might just leech into your psyche and make you crazier than you already are.

I am drawn to its sleek '60s styling and the punchy green color. When I showed it to my partner in crime, Cardboard, she commented, "Holy price tag, Batman." Yeouch!! Definitely not in our budgets. In the words of Cardboard, we were both blinded by a type of green.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Before it gets lost in cyberspace...

I came across this slick chandelier while perusing the Restoration Hardware web site. It's way out of my league in price but not in design. I think it's spectacular.

Palmer Chandelier by Restoration Hardware
I'm glad I "bookmarked" the page over the weekend because today, when I search for it on RH's web site, I see that they've taken it down. When I first found it online, it was flagged "Out of Stock." Apparently a lot of other people were enamored by it too.

So, enjoy the fleeting beauty of this piece. Hopefully, it'll become available again some time in the future.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bonus Bone: Decorative window adhesive

Adhesive Film, Sample Set by Emma Jeffs

Adhesive Film, White Moroccan Tile by Emma Jeffs

Adhesive Film, White Orba by Emma Jeffs

Do you need a little privacy, but don't want to bother with curtains, blinds or shades? This decorative window adhesive by Emma Jeffs is a great arty alternative. I think it is especially perfect for a bathroom window. The adhesive film is available in six different designs: Moroccan Tile, Flowers & Lace, Pixels, Orba, Adelphi, and Clover. The installation and removal process sound easy as pie. Simply add water and adhere to a window. The film gives total privacy while letting full light shine through! Easy to remove and no residue.

The sample pack is an inexpensive option if you aren't 100% sure you want this look or if you can't afford a roll that costs nearly $100. You receive a set of all six designs each measuring 4" x 8" for only $6. You could order a few sets and create a crazy kaleidoscope patterned window mixing all the designs together.

For these reasons, I, Porcelain, declare this a Design Boner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G: RAM, Mode & re.

Earlier this month Cardboard and I, along with our two friends, Formica and Hardwood, visited Ravenswood Antique Mart and Mode on Damen Avenue and the brand spanking new store re.revival on the corner of Irving Park and Southport. Our mission was to help Formica find some new goodies for her apartment, which we are currently helping her redecorate.

We oooh'ed and ahhh'ed over shiny chrome lamps, squealed in delight over a painterly horse print, and lusted after a set of Marimekko-esque mugs at the friendly Ravenswood Antique Mart. Formica scored a fantastic round white metal plant stand for $48.

RAM’s stock focuses on mid-century modern and Scandinavian furniture and accessories with occasional bursts of Art Deco items. The furniture is in good to very good shape, but prices are a little high (at least for our budgets).

Porcelain's favorite mugs @ Ravenswood Antique Mart

Ravenswood Antique Mart

Ravenswood Antique Mart

Ravenswood Antique Mart

Still on Damen Avenue, only a block further south, we got dirty trudging through the mountain of items at Mode. Shopping at Mode required quite a bit more work than Ravenswood Antique Mart. There were no artfully crafted displays making us drool and causing us to whip out our credit cards. This store required us to lift up lamps, paintings and globes to get at something we spied between the cracks. Sometimes we were lucky, sometimes not. If we were lucky, we had to raise the item above our heads and bellow, "How much?"

The owner gives somewhat fair prices, but always a little more than the items are worth, considering that one has to sort through a mountain of junk in order to find treasures. Haggling was created for stores like Mode. But it is an adventure and worth checking out, but remember to wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty.


For those of you who love minimalism! @ Mode

Our intrepid antique shopping team had planned on stopping at another antique store along Damen, but Mode left us tired and our eyes sore. We decided to change gears slightly and head over to the newly opened re.revival on Irving Park and Southport. (After checking out their web site we're not sure if this is a 2nd location or if they’ve moved here from their South Loop spot.) Re.revival had the best displays and arrangement of furniture and accessories, but the store left us somewhat cold. We were used to conversing with the friendly and chatty owners at both Mode and RAM, but at re.revival we got very little attention (not that that is bad, but we really felt ignored). Perhaps it was the absurdly large wheels and ceramic columns, or "Found art sculptures," that left us scratching our heads and wondering who really buys that kind of stuff. Or maybe it was the raw, sloppy plywood flooring (which made total sense as far as being able to hold weight but still looked a little rough). Either way, we left empty handed and called it a day.




For more photos from all stores, check out our Flickr photos.
All photos taken by our colleague Hardwood.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

How to: Candelier

Design Boner has noticed a big trend in lacquering old chandeliers. We've seen them for sale in high-end interior boutiques for great sums of money. We've also seen them featured in design magazines and on televisions programs. The idea is a good one and the result can be spectacularly chic. Since we're not electricians, we decided to forgo the idea of an interior light and instead create a romantic alternative to the candle holder...

The Candelier!
We found our perfect test subject at a local thrift store for only $5. We saw others for sale (complete with all the "crystal" fixins') for over $200. Since this was an experiment, we decided to keep it cheap. And, to be honest, we genuinely liked the simplicity of this fixture. We just didn't like the look. The painted wooden stem and the brassy branches did nothing for the overall shape. The instant we saw this sad little chandelier, we knew a little attention and a good coat of white lacquer could bring it back to life.

To find your own, scan thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, even the alleys behind renovation sites for cheap or free light fixtures. You will definitely want to start with a low-priced item until you master your craft. Remember, you can always dress it up later with baubles and crystals if your end result turns out well.


The best way to get to know your material is to know how it fits together. For this step, we removed the chain, slid the wooden stem off, and jiggled the light socket cups. If you're planning on actually using the electrical on your fixture, this step is crucial because you need to check the wires for damage.
Bee careful when you do this because you never know what you might find inside any old piece of furniture or fixture.

In fact, if you're keeping the electrical element, the best advice is to take your new purchase to a professional to make sure that everything is in working order. And since you're spending the money to do that, you may skip STEPS 2 & 3.


This step spills over from STEP 1. At first, we entertained the idea of leaving the sockets in place. They would work quite well as candlestick holders but we would be limited to buying tall, thin candles. Since this piece was planned for the outdoors, the idea of spindly stick candles blowing and swinging about in the wind did not appeal to us. By removing the sockets, we opened up the option of using short pillar candles, which would be heavier and more centered, lessening the chance of a waxy rain storm. We removed the sockets by unscrewing the nuts at their base, pulling up on the sockets, and clipping the wires that held them in place. We then reattached the cups by screwing the nuts back in place (sans socket).

If you can yank it out, yank it out. If not, pull it out as far as you can and then snip it off right at the base. Any remaining wiring will slip back into the body of the candelier and be hidden from the eye. Make sure to differentiate between any structural wires and electrical wires. Some wires you may need to keep in order for the piece to hang correctly.

First, sand all surfaces with a medium-grade (200 grit) sandpaper. This will clean off dirt, smooth out minor flaws, and prepare the surface to accept the lacquer. If you're working with a fixture that consists of lots of tiny pieces and dangling bits, you're going to hate this step. But your attention to detail will show in the end result so be as particular as you want to be.

After sanding, brush off the loose dust and wipe clean with a rag soaked in rubbing alcohol or other type of degreaser. This step not only cleans off the fine dust but it also removes oils and residue left by your fingers which will prevent a uniform coat of lacquer. You may use acetone or lacquer thinner but they contain harsher chemicals. Rubbing alcohol gets the job done and isn't quite as severe. Your fixture will still look very scratched up at this point but don't worry; none of the scratches will show through the lacquer.

You're almost finished! But don't rush through this last step because, like all the others before it, it's terribly important. Lacquer in spray form is relatively new technology and a classy alternative to spray paint. Both lacquer and paint are applied in the same manner but many say that lacquer will provide higher color retention, a glossier finish, and will be much more durable than paint. For example, automobiles are lacquered so that gives you an idea of what this stuff can endure.

Before you begin, you may want to test your skills on scrap wood or the inside of your trash can. Mastering the aerosol can might look easy but it takes some practice to avoid those tell tale drips. After your test run, hang the fixture somewhere that allows you to reach it from all angles. It's best to find a spot that isn't pristine as tiny particles of lacquer will fly around. Begin with a "piss coat" or a very thin layer of lacquer (or paint) across the entire piece. Professional painters coined this term and they swear that it helps "introduce" paint to the surface, allowing for better overall coverage. Start at the top and work your way down in even strokes. Keep your spray hand constantly moving because if you focus on one spot, you'll apply too much lacquer to that area, and end up with messy looking drips.

Continue coating until you feel that you've gotten to every little nook. If your goal is optimal depth and shine, you should let the first coat dry, sand it all over again, and apply another coat. Keep at it until your vision is achieved. Another benefit of the lacquer is that it dries in about half an hour; whereas spray paint can take a minimum of two hours to fully dry.

We love our candelier! It adds much needed romance and LIGHT to our dingy back porch area. We decided to leave the arms a little bit wonky and asymmetrical because it adds to the charm of the piece. And we don't mind if the candles drip over the edges of the cups because we also think this will work in its favor.

We hope that you have a chance to try this out for yourself. We'd love to hear your feedback on our first "How to..." post and hope that you'll send in your own tidbits of advice. Also, if you've been trying to figure something out but can't quite get it, send us your "How to..." ideas. We welcome any challenge! Until then, happy candeliering!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bonus Bone: Greek Sea Views

I've only visited Greece in books, by way of the internet, and in my own imagination. But if someone asked me to name the one place I'd like to stand and view the sea, Greece would be it. But, of course, I wouldn't stand. I'd sit...upon a sun beaten cushion, that sits upon a splintered wooden chair, that sits upon rustic terra cotta tiles, that form a modest, cozy patio, that opens onto nothing but sky and the deep blue of the Aegean Sea. Sound good?

If you think about the stereotypical "Greece" photo, you'll surely imagine the freshly white-washed structures that wind their way down the volcanic cliffs that spring up from the sea. These villages remind me of the labyrinthine quarters built by the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. Now I've been to Mesa Verde and recall climbing down precarious ladders into cool, mud-packed rooms. I remember feeling unbelievably safe and contained even though, once I climbed back up the ladder, the drop was nearly straight down.

I believe that, once I get there, the sea views of Greece will foster this same feeling inside me. Except I also expect to find miles and miles of salt water; splashes of red flowers, yellow gates, stray cats; and a cold beverage waiting just for me.

For these reasons, I, Cardboard, declare this a Design Boner.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Art vs. Craft Finds

(l.-r.): Porcelain, Alison Rose, & Cardboard selling their goods at Art vs. Craft, 2006
Artist: Alison Rose, ink on napkin
Of course, I spent money at Art vs. Craft. Need you even ask?

The following items fall within the realm of design: art!

(l.-r.): etching by Amy Misurelli-Sorensen, print by Gaudy Girls (see flickr for a close-up)

The tiny printed canvas is only 4" square and terribly sweet. See how nice it looks in my orange dining room (nudge, nudge)? I bought the tire swing print from Gaudy Girls, an ever-changing vendor that I always see at these functions. It doesn't look like these girls sell items online (yet) but their web site does tell you where to find them next.

The other print is an etching by a lovely lady named Amy Misurelli-Sorensen. With a carefree attitude and no web site to her name, she was there trying to sell off loads of her artwork in order to make the long trip out west to graduate school. I bought this delicate print for only $5, but the artist was also selling large woodcuts for $25 and vividly eccentric oil portraits for a few hundred bucks (and that was "completely negotiable").

I finally bought cards from Boxspring Creative. I've been eyeing his work for awhile and this time I paced myself enough to afford 10 new cards. They are entirely simple but clever and for sale online. The illustrations are the best though. Each drawing is unassuming and true, sketches of a life full of pianos, typewriters, and lots of women's shoes.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bonus Bone: Where's Cardboard?

photo taken by our colleague, Hardwood
Cardboard's clothing provided by

Can you spot her?

Wait, is that a lamp?

Cardboard, you fit well into the retro, mid-century decor. Maybe too well!!

What's more fun than shopping with a good friend? Shopping with a HILARIOUS good friend! During a recent shopping trip with Cardboard, we got a little giddy by the end of our visit at the Ravenswood Antique Mart (4727 N. Damen). Cardboard grabbed a random lampshade, donned it on her head and posed so well it would make Tyra Banks proud! My trusty plus one, Hardwood, was busy snapping photos of the store and captured this priceless scene that left us giggling as we left the store.

For these reasons, I, Porcelain, declare this a Design Boner.

Monday, July 03, 2006


After 33 days (!) of waiting and baiting, the final squirrel in my ceiling has been apprehended!

Since May 31st, I have been constantly checking the trap, moving the trap, scraping old, dried bread from the trap. About two weeks ago, I began to whisper to the squirrel, clucking and chirping to him in (what I imagined was) his language. It's rather a feat to translate promises of foliage (instead of fiberglass) with the simple click-click of the tongue. I also figured out how to place the trap UP IN THE CEILING because I think having the trap on the floor probably made him feel too vulnerable to come down and taste the goodies.

The goodies I speak of, the daily squirrel specials, were varied. My internet research advised baiting with nuts, seeds, molasses, peanut butter, oatmeal, anything that will “give off an odor they like.” * G
rains, popcorn, and apples were said to have “visual and taste appeal.” * I tried out most of these snacks and, at my most desperate moments, also served Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, Cheerios, thin-sliced turkey meat, and shiny bells (sparkle worked on Janel's raccoon). I'm convinced that what finally worked was the strategic placement of the trap and Entenmann's Plain Donuts.

Thanks, Entenmann's.
* "Squirrels in your Belfry,"