Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Letting the poufs go

I know: enough already with the poufs.

I was so sure they were the perfect solution for extra seating in my living room--so FIXATED on poufs (square ones, making my own) that I couldn't see in my mind's eye that the scale would be all wrong.

Enter Lisa, lovely homeowner whose master bedroom got the two-day business.  She happens to have a sister-in-law who happens to import crates full of goods from India every time she redecorates, and Lisa just happens to be the happy recipient of some of the leftovers.  Like a pair of leather poufs that she wasn't really using.

Loaner poufs.

(Just to give you context, the other side of this wall is in the dining room, with the paper-art)

Actually, my kids loved the poufs so much that Lisa suggested we keep them, but the moment they plunked down in front of my fireplace, I knew they were too low.  (OR my fireplace is too high, but I don't think that will change anytime soon.)  And then I had a use-what-you-have moment, which produced these chairs from the basement.

I figured if I liked the shape I would spray the bases gold and the chairs white.

But wait!  I have some white chairs!

With the arms, a pair feels like too much (there's a Danish Modern armchair off to the left.)

Just one is just right, especially if you balance the other side with a big modern all-white lamp (which I have) or a spine bookcase (which I don't, but could build like this.)

That wall will not stay white--with the floating fireplace, it just looks too unfinished to me.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Inspired by Japan

My husband returns from nearly two weeks in Japan tomorrow, and I'll be honest, all of a sudden I feel like I am running on empty.  I've been so focused on HERE and my girls and keeping my head above water and preparing for back to school and building headboards and quoting drapery etc, I've hardly thought about the sort of alternate reality of Dave's trip.  Someone asked me the other day why I didn't go, and it struck me: I never thought about it.  I mean, with the girls it just wasn't feasible, but I never thought about what I was missing: about this island country so far away.

Tonight I started thinking about some of my design-associations with Japan, and I wonder if you are familiar with   Shigeru Ban's paper structures?  The Walker Art Center had an amazing exhibition a couple of years ago with alternative forms of architecture, and I was really struck by the tea house made of cardboard tubes, kind of like this.

Some other projects.

Aren't they just beautiful?

This construction method has been used for temporary housing, churches, and other community uses in the wake of disasters like the 1995 earthquake in China.  I suppose I also have natural disasters on the brain.

We've been glad to hear reports from East Coast family and friends who seem to have sustained minimal damage, and hope this continues to be the case.

Hoping my husband has clear sails.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When unfinished is finished

I have a tendency to want things to be quite finished and pulled together.  Looking at sneak peeks on Design Sponge and House Tour's on Apartment Therapy on a regular basis, I feel a growing appreciation for design decisions that truly make less equal more.

Digging through my inspiration files tonight, I stumbled upon this image form Dwell, March 2011.

This room does many things I typically don't like, including placing the furniture on an angle, using a coffee table with no rug, and having that coffee table parallel to exactly nothing (this is making me sound extremely uptight). not to mention art hung somewhat randomly.


I am in love with that red brick border, and the way the randomness of the choice of which bricks to paint white and which to leave brick is so artful, lending credence to the other choices in the space.

If I lived in a loft, I hope I would take this kind of risk, and allow just enough unfinished business.  Somehow it makes this space feel complete.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Small Measures: Partial stripe bedframe

[via Parlour, check out her portfolio for more fun ideas]

A quick, fun update to a vintage bedframe: three bold, black stripes to highlight the architecture but keep thing just a bit off kilter.

Friday, August 26, 2011


My brother and his family were over for dinner the other night, and I noticed that, as always, everyone was standing around the big, huge island in our kitchen.  We were all kind of leaning on the island as if we'd rather be sitting, but where?

For the first time, I found myself wondering why the builder did not build an overhang on the island for a couple of counter stools.  While the edge of the island is sort of the edge of a walkway, there's really plenty of room for stools.  I sort of filed this away in the back of my mind, because my husband left for two weeks in Japan a few days later and life was a scramble.

(As it happens, the only photo I can find of the island features my cute husband.)

We miss you, honey!  Oh, and this kind of gives you a sense of the scale of it, with the girls working at the SHORT side of the thing.

Anyway, in the magazine aisle of Target yesterday, I saw this.

iPad Screenshot 1

Lookie here: a nice big island with no overhang, and stools just lined right up.

Well, duh.

The truth is, I've never given much though to kitchen islands, having lived in a succession of NYC pads with small kitchens (the fact that my last place HAD an island was really exceptional, though really it was just a counter with the wall behind it removed.)  And I will admit that I don't always like the look.  But if this is where the party is in my house, hell, I should pull up a chair.  (One of the bits of advice in this House Beautiful makeover article that I seem to keep quoting was to have a party, watch where your guests drag the chairs, and try to leave them there.)

So I turned to pinterest to see if this is a thing.  You know, a thing.  That people do.  That normal, non-Martha people can get away with.  And guess what?

It totally is.

In my house, I'll need to keep it streamlined, with three stools to go along with the three cabinet doors in the island.  I like the tolix stools, as in the Martha cover, just because I like that kind of thing (See my round up of tolix knock offs, here), but also because the silver finish and tapered shape mimics the bases of my eames dining chairs.

Overstock has them, but they only come in pairs.  At $90/pair it's still probably the best deal, even not using one of the stools.  I also love the idea of those little slip covers, as seen above.  One more opportunity to get another fabric into that space, right?

But first, I'll just think about it for a while.  Notice how often I walk right into the path of where the stools would be.  Have another party and see where my guests drag the chairs.

Why don't you tell me: what do you think of the look?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Ikat Bolster

I may have stumbled upon the solution to my guest room throw pillow problem.  (Oh, to have such problems!)

Ikat Oversized Bolster Pillow Cover & Euro Sham

A giant bolster in red and cream ikat.
The surprising source?

Pottery Barn. (Here)

Some other lovely ikats, too:

Ikat Bolster Pillow Cover

Ikat Embroidered Lumbar Pillow Cover

Now of course I could buy some ikat and make the thing (in fact, Duralee has a red ikat that goes nicely with my existing pillow, also a Duralee fabric), but this is ALREADY DONE.

The problem?  While somewhat reasonably prices, the bolster cover plus insert costs more than the dresser I put in the room.  Or the headboard.  Great thrifted finds, true, but still.

Also, I generally think that a trend is FINALLY on its way out when a big chain store takes it up, especially a very traditional one like PB.  That said, I kind of gotta hand it to them: they did a good job with these, don't you think?

Right now I feel like I will always love ikat, but it isn't one of those things that is having a moment but I have always loved, like Danish Modern furniture, Moroccan tile, metallic gold, and Indian blockprints.  So time will tell.

What do you think: will you buy something that is "over"?  Or could you not care less?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Art You Can Make: Stamps

I mentioned a stamp project the other day.  It's not particularly innovative: there's no decoupage, or DIY, or staple guns, or mod podge, or rub n buff.  Just some cool images being used as cool images.

When I cleaned out my teen bedroom at my parents house (I managed to avoid it for 20 years because I lived away), I found some rather random treasures.  Including a little stone inlay box that fits in my palm, filled with a small collection of stamps from exotic places.  I have an excellent memory--the joke in my family is that I can tell you what I was wearing on any specific occasion--but I have absolutely no recollection of where these stamps came from, just when I collected them, or why the sudden interest.  Yet I do know, for certain, that they are mine: I remember putting them in the little oval box and worrying about crushing the corners (which I did do.)

I had been wanting a series of something for the long, plain hallway upstairs.  I even bought six Ikea ribba frames in a light wood long enough ago that I could no longer return them (and that is LONG in Ikea years.)  The hallway connects the guest room, with its two fashion watercolor illustration and other works on paper, and the girls' room, with the cut-paper silhouettes, an oil painting, and some vintage works, all paint on paper. I was thinking photography.

But I wanted something very small scale.  I like the idea of intimate works in a hallway, where you kind of have to get close to see the piece.

Enter my little stamp collection.

I went through and chose the stamps that had the simplest, most graphic presence so they would "read" at a bit of a distance, and tried to focus on pieces with colors from the two bedrooms.  I played around with different groupings, and ended up using these:

I love that they are from the 70s (how appropriate to my decor), that a number of them were special edition Olympics stamps, and that several have been canceled.

The stamps were a little TOO small on their own, and would have required special mats, which would have been pricey and/or a mat-cutting pain in the ass (so glad we bought that mat cutter, back in the day).  So I scanned the stamps.  My scanner is not exactly high resolution, so I found I was only able to blow them up a little bit: just enough to be more than a stamp.  Actually, they worked as big as 3x5 or 4x6, but they started to look like postcards, and I wanted to preserve their stamp-ness.  Stampiness?  Essence of stamp.

I printed them on heavy watercolor paper to give a bit of weight and texture, and slapped them in those Ribba frames.

I have to say, I love the way they turned out!  they are most likely temporary, but I'm so happy to have something up on that wall.  The laundry room is in the middle of the hallway, an I love catching a glimpse of these two while I fold laundry out of the dryer.

What a glamorous life I lead!

What about you: any good ephemera to scan and mount as art?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Powder Room Pairs

My friend Marni and I are at it again.  After looking at rug options to mix with zebra, she ended up ordering the bright orange dining chairs from one of my boards, and the living space is coming together.

Next up: the teensy tiny powder room off her kitchen.  We had already chosen the wallpaper.

And Marni found this modern, teeny tiny sink.

Then it was up to me to dress it up with mirrors and sconces.

I gave her a lot of choices.  Really.  So many that I edited them down for you guys.  I don't know why, but I keep going crazy on options for Marni.  Maybe because I'm helping her for free, so the clock's not running and I feel like I can just play, play, play without necessarily coming up with THE ONE.  Maybe it's because I'm pretending I'm doing my own house but with a better budget.

At any rate, the goods.

While I generally think you can mix metals just fine, in here we had some extra leeway because the wallpaper is a chartreuse flock on a silvery metallic background, so really you have your gold and your silver already.  The one thing I would NOT do with those chrome sink fittings would be a shiny polished brass or gold--competing shine.  Everything I chose in gold has some kind of distressed or aged finish happening.

Any favorites?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Small Measures: Decoupage Wall

[Pottery Barn]

Choose a small wall.  Decoupage vintage newspapers and personal ephemera = unique (and cheap) wallpaper in a day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What I must have

Okay, so I have been trying to play it cool over here about the whole Missoni for Target thing.  I totally freaked out over the Calyspo partnership, announcing it here, and did in fact go to at least one Target store (and possibly more, but I'm not telling) on the day the collection launched.  And then bought....nothing.  Not a thing.  I tried to get my girls to at least fall for the little girls line, which was to die, but they were not convinced.

So, right.  Playing it cool.  Despite the fact that Missoni is only my favorite. brand. ever.  Not to be all, I loved Missoni before it was super cool to the masses or anything, but the truth is, I did.  And I will love it even after the Target goods are brought home, then packed up and sent off to greener pastures when the trend fades.  I talked a little bit about my missoni love in a tangent about thoughtfulness on my other blog, here. (Aren't my parents the sweetest?)

The day the first images of the collection hit, my friend Sara sent me the link to the Huffington Post piece, and we agreed that what we most desperately needed was the bike...

FOR SURE, the bike.  My husband insists I need a new one, so why not make it Missoni?

These emails passed in secret (playing it cool), but then, today, I saw a link to the FULL LOOKBOOK on New York Magazine, and I am caving to the pressure and sharing my faves.  Not my favorites in like a critical round up way, no.  This is what I want bad for myself.  It is a short, sweet, list.

This quilt must grace the bed of my bedroom (thereby leaving my Dwell for Target bedding in the dust.  I'm from Minnesota: we are Target loyalists, what can I say?)

And this awesomeness must come home and solve all of my deck seating issues.

It must.

And don't worry: I know full well that the items I want will under no circumstance be available at my local stores.  That would be too easy/awesome.  As far as I can tell, the Calypso gold pouf is an urban legend.

But I will be there, the day the collection launches.  My record for Target stores visited in one day is maybe 12, but I was being paid for that.  

So, tell me, what do you think is a reasonable number of Target Stores to visit in pursuit of the perfect Missoni pieces?

This is a trick question.  The answer will tell me how insane you (and I) are.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


So thrilled to have this little old blog featured on METRO Magazine's website today, part of the Blog Lovin' series.  I will admit, I always find it a little embarrassing to read stuff about myself that I didn't write (ever the control freak), but it's a nice little piece.  Thanks, Jennifer Mitchell, for putting this together!

You can read the article here.

Welcome, Metro readers!  Hope to see you back here often.  If you feel so compelled, you can follow me here on the blog, or on Facebook or on Twitter @hpetersondesign.

To get you started, here are a bunch posts to check out.

Looking for a tutorial?  How about one of these?

How to hang an art wall (or multiple art walls)
How to paint the continents on your walls
How to buy vintage
How to make a pleated lamp shade
How to build a headboard
How to make botanical silhouettes
How to make art from paper

Need some design inspiration?  Here's some!

Hanging Lanterns
Natural wallcoverings
Vintage Educational chart
Overscale botanicals
Leopard Print
Zebra Print
Graphic wall treatments (okay, and more)
Twin Canopies

How about product roundups?  Sure thing.

Modern Birdfeeders
Modern chair knock offs
Galvanized garden chairs

Everyone loves a makeover, right?

Two day makeover: after
Oliver's nursery: after
Guest room: after
Girl's room: after and after-after
Dining room: after
Cocktail table turned ottoman: after

And last but not least, Reader Design Dilemmas

Family calendar
mixed-gender kids room
re-purposing a media unit
re-purposing a recalled crib
Mixing other rugs with zebra
working around a vintage plant stand entry

And of course, if you have a dilemma of your own shoot me an email heather [at]

There's lots of other stuff on the blog, too, so go browse.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ikat Pillow

While I had my sewing machine out the other day, I decided to finally do something with this Duralee Ikat fabric that I bought for the living room.

A tiny bit of history.  Back when I bought it, I cut fabric for two 22 inch square pillow covers and even started sewing them to some cream velvet backs, only to discover that my sewing machine zipper setting would only run in reverse.  Before getting it looked at, I found other pillows I liked more, and--easy peasy--they were already made.  I figured I would eventually use the square pillows in the guest room, but that would mean new inserts and, well, you know how these things can spiral out of control.

Instead, I used a remnant of the ikat and the velvet backing, and made a little throw pillow for a 14 x 20 insert I had in the living room, awaiting a decision about the final fabric for that space.  To avoid the sewing machine issue (still haven't fixed it), I just made an envelope closure.

What do you think? (sorry that this room is near impossible to photograph between the navy walls and silk shantung curtains).

This was what I had before.

While I love, love, love those block-printed pillow cases, they were literally disintegrating, shredding before my very eyes.  So now I need to put cases on the two extra pillows, and just deciding if I'm going to stick with white or do something a little more exciting.  (Picking up the raspberry color seems like a good idea.)

Okay, sorry, yawn.  This is way too many words about a pillow.  It just seems like you MUST know all the background at all times.

Maybe all white pillows, plus a bolster in something fun?

Every time I think I'm done in this room, I'm just.....not....quite!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming

Function is at it again,  Messing up my plans, uglifying things.

Here's the deal.  This is our house.

Simple, clean-lined, modern.  Not at all what I thought we would end up with, but I love it.

Last night, we had flash flooding, and copious amounts of water came in to our (thankfully unfinished) basement, for the second time in two weeks.  This happened once before, RIGHT before we closed on the house, and the previous owners put covers on the window wells on the problem side of the house, and paid us to install gutters.

Which, in the end, we didn't do.  Because look at the corners of this house!

No overhang, no nothing.

Gutters will be an eyesore.  I do not believe I am being dramatic: they will simply ruin the line of the house.

But obviously we can't get out the shop vacs every time it storms, and cross our fingers against mildew and mold.

I'm curious if anyone out there has any magical solutions for me?  (pretty please?)

I'm also curious: how far have you gone (or not gone, as the case may be) in favor of aesthetics over function?


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