Our Home: Backyard



Having a backyard to spend time outdoors in was most definitely what we were most excited about when it came to moving into a new home in California. And though we had a ton of furniture to buy for inside (coming from a small, studio apartment), we agreed that the number one priority was furnishing and tending to the backyard. We knew that those purchases would go most directly toward making us feel happy about the move from New York, and give us the most dramatic sense of an increased quality of life.

Simply the addition of outdoor space was plenty to be happy about (okay, that, and the bit of trivia that there’s an average of 300 sunny days a year here).  But there was still a lot we wanted to do in the yard.


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Case Study Pots and Snake plants


We just potted our Snake plant and I love how easy-to-grow and architectural it is. I just saw that West Elm’s blog, Front & Main, featured one the other day.

What are your favorite houseplants? Also, we just picked up these beautiful Case Study planters by Modernica from Room & Board. Does anybody have a good source for straight-sided black and white pots like these (or like these ones by Architectural Pottery)? We keep getting outbid on Ebay—it’s incredible how expensive they can be!


By the way, our Ikea Chair-hack was featured on iVillage!

Have a great weekend!

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Dry blooms

Natural Wood Frames


We’re starting to hang more things on the walls. (Very, very slowly. I tend to prefer lean decoration and it takes me a long time to commit.) It would easier if gorgeous, large-scale photographs–like those ones above–weren’t so darned out of reach.

I’ve been noticing a trend toward natural wood frames these past few years; the fashion seems to have gone from black to white to, now, light wood. Have you noticed this, too?


I asked Victoria where she got hers (pictured on those amazing, custom shelves above) and of course Ikea has discontinued them. Anyone know a good source?

[Photos: (top) Chinese Jesus; (bottom left) SF Girl By Bay (bottom right) Apartment Therapy]

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Los Angeles: Two favorites on Third Street


We used to live in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, so walking the strip of shops between Fairfax and La Cienega on Third street was a regular routine (in between pancakes at Doughboys or a cheese board at Joan’s). One must-stop is always OK on Third (I hear they now have a location in Silverlake, too); and since we left, one of our musts from Nolita in NY moved in–Haus (oddly enough, not far from an outpost of NY’s Magnolia bakery).

OK Store
8303 West Third Street

Haus Interior
8211 West Third Street

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Garde Los Angeles


A lot had changed since the the last time we were in Los Angeles, but the strip of Beverly between Fairfax and La Brea was still reliably packed with design store gems–Heath, Lawson-fenning, Modernica, Ige… Most are more aspirational than realistic, but at least I can afford the food to be found there, too–BLD, El Coyote, Milk, Buddha’s Belly, Terroni…

A new favorite shop had emerged: In a space once occupied by an electronics repair shop, Scotti Sitz has opened Garde, a carefullly curated selected of home goods and apparel. Everything had a stripped down, natural look–minimal without being cold. It didn’t surprise me to later learn that Sitz once worked for Calvin Klein. We spent a long time browsing; I was trying to bookmark all of the designers’ names in my mind when, thank goodness, she pointed out that everything is online.

We especially fell hard for these flax-rope lighting fixtures. I think they would look so awesome with our headboard, but I’m not sure I’m quite good enough at being neat-and-clean for the coiled rope on the floor to be appreciated as intentional.

Garde, 7418 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles

More favorite Los Angeles shopping stops coming right up… 

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Fresh bed, fresh start


It was a bit of a push, but we began the New Year in crisp, fresh sheets and a brand-new bed. Aron’s parents watched Hudson for a few hours while Aron disasembled and reassembled our old bed in a guest room for our friends, and I ran off to Macy’s to splurge on sheets* for our new one.

It’s been a long-time coming… starting with that headboard we picked out in Bali.

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Have a nice weekend!


These photos are from a couple of weeks ago–biking in the Davis arboretum, and hanging out in the backyard with friends who were visiting from New York… in our new chairs! It wasn’t even cold, but we thought the scenario was deserving of a midday fire. Slowly but surely, new furniture is making its way to us. We found these chairs at Room & Board and are really happy with how they look with and without the cushions (especially key since we went with white). And we just learned that the rest of our outdoor furniture is arriving next week! More accurately, it’s arriving at the port of Oakland sometime next week–having made the long, slow boat ride from Bali, where we ordered most of it in August. I’m so excited! We pretty much just showed them photos of what we wanted and, a month or so later, they emailed us photos of a finished chair, table, etc. But it still feels so, well, unknown. On top of that, we had only seen our house once when we made the decisions we did. Fingers crossed!

Here are a few other things I’ve been thinking about lately:

Another anniversary today: Aron and I have been together 11 years as of today. Wowzers! Happy anniversary, love.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Huntington Gardens. These lovely photos have me pining for a return trip.

What a thrilling installation! I wish we could see it in person.

Does anyone recognize this photo from Pinterest? I’d love to know the source.

A gift guide featuring Kids’ toys on Etsy.

Next weekend, San Francisco will play host to the Renegade SF Craft Fair and the Kindred Pop-up shop. If you’re in the area, you should check them out! Here are some photos from Renegade Brooklyn 2012 (and 2010).

Kelly put together her fantasy Christmas dinner–amazing!

Honey Buns. When I was a kid, I used to regularly eat something from the frozen section called Honey Buns by Morton and they have suddenly been on my mind again. Sadly, when I looked them up on BrandlandUSA:

“…There were Morton Pot Pies, Morton Creme Pies, Morton Cinnamon Rolls. But the real star was Morton Honey Buns. Morton Honey Buns came four to a package, and there was so much sugar on each that when you pulled the buns out, the sugar frosting was all over the package and the four came out like a brick. But the brand is gone, nowhere to be found. And since the launch of the BrandlandUSA blog, we have discovered it is one of the top searched for dead brands on our site. People far and wide are searching for Morton, but cannot find it. While we knew Morton’s was a personal favorite, until we launched the blog, we didn’t know how many others loved the brand too. Apparently, they are mostly searching for the Morton Honey Buns, and not so much the Pot Pies, though those get requests too.”

Do you remember them? The closest thing out there? Krispy Kreme donuts, microwaved for about 7 seconds. Now I’m hungry.

Have a good one!


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Shopping the Remodelista Market at Heath SF


We drove into San Francisco on Saturday–it was gorgeous there–and headed straight for the new Heath shop to see what was on display for Remodelista’s third annual holiday market. A regular follower of the website, I had a feeling I would like (and covet) a lot of what I saw and of course I was right. There were some fantastic vendors–many of whose wares I recognized from online (often from Pinterest)–and all would be great inspiration for Christmas shopping if you’re a little stuck still. (I’d like some of those Turkish rugs and bright pillows, and some Book/Shop bookends, thank you very much!)

We walked out with Blue Bottle coffees in hand, talking about beautiful everyone there was (and maybe feeling a little nostalgic for city-life). Hudson walked hugging a new Peruvian teddy that looks a little like Chewbacca and that we all agreed was just about the softest thing we’d ever felt.

Pictured from top–Textiles: Virginia Davidson; Linen clothing and dolls: Jess Brown Design; Pillows: Whim and Caprice; Tree stamps: Brendon Farrell for Keeps; Caramel Corn: CC Made; Bookend/stands etc: Book/Shop; Alpaca Teddy Bear: MINT; Floral: Louesa Roebuck; Birdhouses: Studio Chad Wright; Dishtowels: Studiopatro; Ceramic Speakers: Joey Roth; Riding Boots: Steed Fine Hoarding and Tack; Airplant in frame: Airplantman Designs

(Also in attendane/not pictured: Ambatalia, HBGDagmar Daley, Erica Tanov, Heritage Culinary Artifacts, Julia Turner, June Taylor Jams, Le Feu de l’Eau, Lemon Twist,  Maki Yamada, Muhs Home, Parfums DelRae, Plantspeople, Pope Valley Pottery, Richard Carter Studio, Rough Linen, Sara Barner, Small Trade Company.)

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Hudson’s room



Joanna’s post the other day about favorite wallpapers included a link to her article for Martha Stewart on Hudson’s old nursery space and it felt especially timely to look at those photos again: I had just framed and hung a piece of his old wallpaper for a collage wall I’ll be slowly adding to, in his new room. One of his walls is entirely covered in cork, so that it can evolve with him.

It was so nice to see this go up and feel like Hudson recognized his old animal friends (he clicks with the horses and trumpets with the elephants). And I love that a piece of that teeny little first bedroom came with us.

I’d say his is the most “finished” room in the house, but it still has a way to go. I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite kids’ spaces on my Pinterest boards for inspiration.

[images from top: my own; cork wallCollage wall; shelves and I heart NY; Hudson Bay Blanket and teepee; grey crib with sputnik mobile; art space; playspace from Lonny]

P.S. More on Hudson’s first “nursery in a closet” and some thoughts on having a baby in New York City.


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Dieter Rams’ 606 Universal shelving


I never thought I could get excited about track shelving. But never say never, right?
I’ve been looking around at shelving for my office (I’m totally claiming that room, by the way). In all likelihood, something from Ikea will be making an appearance, but I ordered a catalog from Vitsœ and have become mildly obsessed with its simple practicality.
Dieter Rams designed the “606 Universal Shelving System” (an E-track modular shelving concept) in 1960 and the Vitsœ catalog is makes a brilliant case for starts-cheap-but-gets-exorbitant-quickly modular system, saying that the biggest complaint they get from customers is that they wish they had bought it sooner. Then they suggest starting small–a shelf here, a track there–and adding over the years. After all, it’s a system that has been around for decades–virtually unchanged–and isn’t going anywhere. Moreover, you never have to leave it behind if you move, so it can adapt and grow with any space you like.
In use at libraries, offices, shops, and in homes, it’s likely that you’ve seen the shelving system somewhere before.
Still, I think it’s fair to call it “aspirational” shelving: while it’s true that you can start off by spending relatively little, we priced out a wall and quickly closed the catalogue.
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Handmade baskets in the market

Have you read Jenny’s cleaning schedule? When I first saw it, I have to admit I thought it was insane! And then I kept reading and realized it’s the most brilliant plan. (And I’m clearly not the only one–that post has 1,943 comments!) I told Aron about it and next thing I knew it was posted on our fridge. I only realized this, however, after we’d had a babysitter and two friends over: I was so embarrassed! What are we? College roommates?!

But I have to be honest. I haven’t stopped thinking about it! It’s so brilliant! Especially this bit about baskets: “I zip through my house every night with this basket, throwing in every misplaced item, then going back to each room once and put the things back where they belong. It takes me just a few minutes to pick up a day’s worth of clutter this way. No more running back and forth and back and forth from room to room putting things away. Try the basket method—you’ll never go back!” 

We have a cleaning service coming to our place today (part of a most-wonderful housewarming gift from Aron’s parents) so now seems like the time to get some sort of routine in place. I think the fact that Aron is excited about it tells you just how good I am as a tidy homemaker. Ha!

A Cleaning Calendar to Make Sure the House Stays Clean

Baskets at the ready! I’ll be adding watering the plants and skimming the pool to our list. You?

[Photo by Melinda Anderson; Jenny has a printable version of this list on her site, Little Green Notebook]

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Tiny living. And ruthless editing.


Aron always teased me about how many times I used the phrase “our 500-square-foot apartment” on here. It just felt necessary to reiterate. I.e. “No, Hudson doesn’t sleep in our closet because the other room is a wine cellar. We have a small, studio apartment.” But in truth, 500 square feet is only notable in New York because there were three of us. 500 square feet is perfectly reasonable and even roomy, in New York.

Notable is 250 square feet.

Erin writes a series about how to co-habitate in 250 square feet on her site, Reading My Tea Leaves (and does so beautifully–the living and the writing). It’s completely inspiring to me: every object that comes into her space must be carefully considered. Tiny living requires a great deal of editing.

We always cheated a lot: boxes at the parents’ house, memorabilia in storage… but I’d like to think we did get some good practice at editing. The challenge is to keep hold of that skill and put it to use when 1200 more square feet suddenly become available. Sentimentality is a… you know… and I’ve got it bad.

P.S. On that note, I’ve been meaning to watch the Graham Hill talk Joslyn references here. (“Editing is the skill of this century.”) Have you seen it? I’m guessing it might conflict with my Pinterest obsession?

[Photo by Erin Boyle for Reading My Tea Leaves]

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Herman Miller Collection Pop-Up Shop


We finally made it over to the Herman Miller Pop-Up Shop on Wooster–celebrating the launch of the furniture manufacturer’s new collection–and just in the nick of time: the shop is only open through this coming Sunday, July 1st. The huge space had curated vignettes throughout, combining both old and new pieces. It was such a pleasure to browse, even if nearly everything was beyond our reach. They were even so welcoming to Hudson, offering him Fort Standard blocks and an event poster to color–which seemed so fitting with the furniture collection’s goal to truly be used for modern living.

Of course, as we left, Aron explained that he watched in horror as Hudson dripped blue drool–on his shirt, thank goodness–from the crayons he had spotted (and of course sampled) while simultaneously listening to me get a quote of nearly $15,000 for a nearby cream-linen sofa. Yeah, good stuff.

Herman Miller Pop-UP, 68 Wooster St. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm, and Sunday 12 noon to 5 pm through July 1.


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Off the market! Our new home.


Today is our closing date! We signed the papers and that 1964-Streng house in California is officially ours! I can’t believe it. I’ll have to take a lot more before photos when we move in this September in anticipation of sharing some good “afters.” We will practically be starting from scratch with furniture, so it’s going to be a big (but fun) task figuring out how to fill and personalize a whole home. There’s a pool–and a jacuzzi!–so maybe we’ll mull it all over while swimming laps! Ha!

I recently met Deborah Needleman (the founding editor of Domino Magazine) and so was inspired to pick up her new book at Anthroplogie. I love it so far and I’ve just begun. My favorite tip from the chapter I’ve finished is (roughly) that the best lighting will evoke candles. Seems simple, but it’s making me look at fixtures in a whole new… ahem… light. What are your favorite sources of inspiration for decorating/furnishing? I have a feeling there’s a lot of pinning in my immediate future.

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Mini-crib update


Mini-crib setup

I was surprised (and flattered!) to learn that our little fella’s crib nook was featured on Apartment Therapy Family yesterday! We often get questions about how it’s working out to have Hudson–a tall, nearly-nine-month-old–in what once was Aron’s closet, and specifically how it’s working out with the Alma Mini Crib .

So here’s the original post about the crib (written when Hudson was near three-months-old for Baby Mine), and–following that–an update. Also, good news: there’s now a less expensive (similar) mini crib at Target!



Falling back
Fabric finds
Trimming the tree
Visiting FAO Schwarz

A New (Old) Address?


We may soon be proud owners of a 1964 Streng Brothers-built home!

We don’t want to jinx it, so more details to come (and in fact we’re flying to California later this week), but I’ve been doing some sleuthing into the history of Streng built homes in the Sacramento Valley (and finding a few great articles and sites). I love how quintessentially Californian these mid-century modern homes are.

These past few weeks have been wild–and I’m guessing the next few will be, too!

[Brochure scan image c. Atomic Pear’s Flickr]

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Apartment tour (and some news)


We bought some cherry blossoms at the farmer’s market this past weekend (it’s so exciting when they start selling tulips and daffodils and, branches of peach, cherry, quince), and I was reminded of these photos we once took in our apartment for a website… and then never used.  I added a few more recent shots here and thought it might be fun to share a little tour of our apartment–all 550 square feet!

However, I do have another motive besides nostalgia for bringing out these photos… We’re moving! I promise I’ll share all the details next week, but for now I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask: know anybody who is in the market to buy a studio-alcove apartment in Manhattan (Union Square/East Village)? We’re going to be listing it soon, but there’s no broker attached yet. Email me if you or someone you know is interested (and if for some reason we don’t sell, we may rent it out… if you’d be interested in that, it might not hurt to let me know). Fingers crossed!

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