Monday, November 19, 2007

Confession Time

Over the years I have ribbed Christan about his occasional use of artificial foliage in his design work. Well... I feel I must confess to you that this weekend I bought 2 pre-lit outdoor decorative topiaries for the holidays. Yes my friends, I bought fake trees.

And I feel good about it!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sad, Sad News...

This Saturday was our last column for The Seattle PI (sniff, sniff).

The section of the paper we wrote for, "@Home" has been discontinued. The same has happened to The Seattle Times "Digs" section.


From what I understand, it had little to do with the content, but the advertising just didn't support it. Funny, because when these sections first debuted, there were LOTS of advertisers. Makes me wonder...

Regardless, it's really too bad. There was a lot of great information we put out for our readers in our section. I am really going to miss it. And I will miss hearing back from our readers - both the positive AND negative feedback!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Color Therapy for the Paint Princess

Christian and I were in my office this morning, writing for the PI. And he said' "It's time to change your office around and find a new paint color!"


Well, come to think of it, it HAS been over eight years since my office was painted. How did THAT happen?

Currently the walls are a nice muted purple with a green accent - ohmygosh - as I look around I realize it is PAST time to repaint!!!

Being the Paint Princess has its benefits. Choosing my own colors is not one of them! Christian found a great color for consideration: C2 Paint's "Rickshaw". But I'm thinking "Saddle" might be just the ticket, too...

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Road Trip

Our next Road Trip is due to be published October 20th - just in time for Halloween! So yes, we are focusing on Halloween Design - and we had a frightfully good time researching this topic (har, har).

Rom Rage

If you click on this photo of Christian, you'll see he is sporting what looks like a poorly-placed Bindi dot (with accompanying bump) right on the top of his forehead - a victim of "Rom Rage".

What is "Rom Rage", you ask??? Well lets just day that interior design is not for sissies. He was kindly helping Rom Lee install a piece at the Designer Showcase hosted by Glenn Richards (check out my blog entry here for more details...) when he was attacked, yes attacked by falling hardware and tumbling ladders. Since Rom is so easy-going, we are blaming him for the whole ordeal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ruminations On the Past

With hefty fall fashion and design magazines hitting the newsstands this fall, we thought that we’d take a look backwards into the design trends of the past. Not only were the prices vastly different, but the reflecting values and approaches were too.

We scoured our collection of old design books and how-to manuals and found some rather interesting (some might claim useless) tidbits that give us a humorous glimpse into the design arena of days gone bye. As you will see, it’s a far cry from the Crate and Barrel, mail order, and the internet extravaganza we now have. Enjoy…..

The following was a furniture budget offered as a suggestion in “Popular Home Decoration”, a design book published in 1940. It appeared in a chapter titled “A Bride’s Eye View” and meant to assist the young new homemaker with household planning.

Sofa Bed with slipcover $67.48
Two end tables $ 2.99 each
Lamps $ 3.25 each (note: assemble at home)
Side chairs $ 3.00 each
Dining table $ 3.49 each
Unfinished bookcases $ 3.95 each
Percale for draperies $ 8.75 (35 yards @ .25 per yard)
Bath towels .59 each
Double bed sheets $ 1.79 each
Bed pillows $ 3.00 each

The same text offered these 5 categories for families: Prosperous, Comfortable, Backbone of America, Just Getting By and Relief Groups. You were encouraged to determine your category as it made your position clear and was helpful for knowing what types of household furnishing you would be purchasing and how much you could spend.
If you were in the middle of the pack, you could expect to spend a whopping $179.00 to completely outfit your first apartment!

You were also encouraged to determine what your family “type” was. Check this out:

The Social Type: Bridge, parties, gossip, clothes and shopping.
The Intellectual type: Books, current events, theatre and concert attendance
The Community Builder: Church, charity, PTA and active club work
The Home centered type: Mending, washing, ironing and cleaning
The Creative type: Art, cooking, gardening and decorating

And once you figured all of this out, you could select from any of the following design styles to create the home of your imagination or dreams: Rustic, Casual, Informal, Semiformal or Formal. Each of these came with suggestions on proper wood finishes, fabrics and surfaces to compliment the feeling.

Much of the advice in these old books is still of value today. Their value lies in organizing the interior design process into a framework from which to hang your project. Today it might be framed in the language of designing in “layers” or finding your “personal style”. The challenge is to integrate the advice of a half century ago into the progress we have made, the choices we have and opportunities afforded us by technology and innovation. At the very least, they are an entertaining glimpse at a simpler time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Designer Showcase

I was sent an interesting link to a Designer Showcase that is happening in Chicago called Dreamhome. It features a number of very well known interior designers - you most likely would recognize Nate Berkus, of Oprah fame for example (really, it's his "personality" you love so much, isn't it?).

What I found really cool was that I could "virtually" preview each designers room and get the chance to understand their thought process. If you have a few minutes to spare, you might find it fun to see how designers approach their projects.

Do I have a favorite??? Yes, but I'm not going to tell!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What? We Evoke These Strong Emotions - About Decorating???

Not all reader feedback is of a positive nature:

Dear Robin and Christian and John (our esteemed editor):
How fabulous to read two columnists who have a lock on the truth! I am not an admirer, however. We just installed the shower head provided by the City of Seattle; it replaced that one they sent several years ago. This one allows us to turn down the water volume to just a trickle between soaping and rinsing, and despite the cold nipping at exposed wet skin, we take advantage of that feature because it seems to be part of being a good citizen.

Multiple shower heads are self-indulgent and environmentally indefensible as is the gigantic house featured on the front page of the paper today. Your training clearly reflects that you believe design and/or beauty is more important than anything else. You are shallow, and so "yesterday" besides. Your flippant dismissal of a tub for people with joint problems says it all. Don't pass yourselves off as thoughtful problem solvers. Your interests are clearly far more superficial than that.
M.E. , disgusted
(via email)

Well. I suspect this is in response to an article published a few weeks ago where the father wanted to update his single bed/bath condo for his son to live in, but still wanted to keep it in good marketable shape. He wondered if he needed to keep the tub for resale. We supposed that it would be okay,and maybe even great if he got rid of the tub and created a "spa-like" room. Maybe even including a shower with two heads.

This is not to say that those who luxuriate in baths or have joint issues are lesser concerns, but our response was towards a PARTICULAR instance of desire on the owners' part and future resale.

We said that the number of people that would be turned off by the loss of the tub would probably be minimal, in regards to putting it on the market.

Remember, this is a single bed/bath unit. There are many out there! Why not create some features that would make it attractive and unique?

Plus, what ever happened to life's little luxuries? I doubt a person uses a double shower head on a daily basis, for goodness sake! But - light a candle, play some great music and enjoy the double heads once in a while seems o.k. in my book.

I think too, there are issues in her answer that are a response to last weeks column about our view that there are varying shades of being "green". This reader may be on the far end of the spectrum, most people would NOT turn down their water in the middle of the shower... Maybe in the future this will be the norm, and the earth will be better off for it. But for right now...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Allen Town

Robin and I strolled among the heavy equipment yesterday and gave a gander to what's going on in South Lake Union, referred to in smaller circles as "Allen Town". We set our sites on home furnishings retail establishments for a feature we are doing for an upcoming issue of @Home. All in all a lovely morning, capped by a mediocre dining experience at whatever the restaurant is at the Pan Pacific that has outdoor my opinion its only asset. They are simply trying to hard. After lunch we did wander over to the snappy new pet supply shop called "Scraps". Greeted and treated nicely by the owner who clearly loves his dogs and what he does! Great selection of just about everything you need for Fido and things your probably don't need but want. Short of visiting John and Laurie Fairman (Honeychurch and Glenn Richards) and Uncle Carl (antique Liq.) I am not sure I feel all that compelled to rush right back to SoLaU (moniker courtesy of Robin Daly). It hasn't yet turned into a gracious living experience. One can hope.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More on the Ugly Truth

I was having lunch today with my friends, including Linda who manages the huge Dania down at Southcenter. I was telling her about the not-so-great furniture construction we found under the chipped veneer on the Ralph Lauren table (this is a table that retails for $3,000, with it's "clearance" marked at $999).

She just kept nodding her head and saying that a lot of furniture is now made like that. Forget heirloom quality construction, it's all for show.

So... In light of finding good quality at "reasonable" prices - here's a shout-out to my friends Rene and Teresa of McKinnon Furniture. This is the real deal, quality made and local to boot!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Next Road Trip

Christian and I are going to explore.... South Lake Union. It should be interesting, there has been a lot of new development there that sort of bleeds up towards Capitol Hill. "Uncle Carl" (Antique Liquidators), we are coming to see you!

I am thinking we need to give South Lake Union a new moniker: SoLaU perhaps?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I've just completed replacing all of the major appliances in my kitchen It's been time for a while, but like many other things, I was daunted by the process. I finally bit the bullet and went to Crossroads Appliance and nabbed Les, a well informed salesman who managed me through the process. Soooooo many choices! It was helpful to have a budget in mind and be aware of priorities for options as they all cost more green! I had no bell and whistle requirements for the dishwasher.....but thought having a microwave with 2 shelves was a swell upgrade. Then there is the fridge...gosh when I think about what I have been limping along with all these years. Who knew having a freezer on the bottom was such a luxury, not to mention actual lighting, frost control, clear shelves, and the ultimate treat, counter depth. Made my head spin. When all was said and done I was happy with my choices and on Friday the happy truck arrived with skilled worker bees who took the old stuff away and installed the new. That event took half a day but made me realize the true value in paying for take away and installation by the pros. . Now of course I have upset the apple cart, and the kitchen needs to be painted and a few other items need next homes, but all and all it was an upgrade well worth the effort. Next the bathroom....argghhhhhh.

The Ugly Truth

On Saturday, our feature article on Outlet Shopping was published . One of the interesting things about our work out in the community is how other businesses perceive our coverage.

The Macy's Outlet at Southcenter did not want the photographer to take any shots of the store, because they felt it wouldn't represent Macy's the way they want people to think of them.

Hmmm..... If that's the case, why go to market with an outlet? If your goal is to project a quality image, or high-end image, or whatever your stated idea is, shouldn't ALL of your activities reflect this goal? In other words, even if you have a outlet center, wouldn't you want to create the impression that it all fits within your messaging?

If it doesn't - why not?

Conversely, the Restoration Hardware Outlet did a great job of continuing their public message AND they were moving their overstocks, out-of-dates, etc. So, it can be done successfully, it just takes thought and effort.

Score one for Restoration Hardware.

It's a Girl Thing

Last summer we lived through a kitchen remodel, and now we are enjoying our new and improved life. The layout of the new kitchen has really improved the way we function and makes it a lot easier to accomplish simple daily tasks like making kid lunches and putting away the dishes.

Well, one of our drawers is dedicated to kid cups and plates. It's low to the ground and out of the way of the regular kitchen activity. It also has been causing some problems lately.

For some reason, kid dishes tend to multiply when no one is looking. Oh sure, it starts out innocently enough - keepsake cups from places like Red Robin are added to the collection on a semi-regular basis. Before you know it, the drawer is overflowing with lids, straws, plates and cups galore.


So, it came as no surprise to find that one of the larger cups decided to bail out of the drawer. But it fell BEHIND the drawer. Well that's an easy enough fix - pull the drawer off the glides, remove the offending cup (throw said cup away) and reinstall the drawer.

The problem with nifty new things, we learned, is that it is not always easy to put it all back together. Low tech drawers simply slide along the edge of the opening, fancy new drawers need to be connected to the super-smooth glides that keep one from ever slamming a drawer shut.

Didn't work.

Had to do SOMETHING! And the thought of asking for a service call for a silly thing like attaching a drawer seemed a bit excessive. After spending a good 15 minutes trying all sorts of connection approaches, I pulled deep from my reservoir of inner resources... Ah ha!

Two minutes later, mission accomplished. My tool of choice? My M-A-C powder compact, of course! It comes with a handy mirror which works for both bronzer application AND home improvement needs.

Once I placed the mirror on the ground, I could see exactly where the glide connection needed to be make under the drawer, and things were fixed in a jiffy.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stretched or Stapled?

Last week Christian and I wrote about the difference between the Waterfall and French Tuck methods of carpet installation. We received some great feedback from a carpet installer, who had his own perspective on the whole dilemma:

Here's Bruce Morris of Morris Carpet Service:
"Read your article about carpet on stairs, French Wrap or Waterfall. As an installer for 30 years and someone who sells carpeting I often confront the question of French Wrap or waterfall.

The two questions that first must be answered is 1. how well will the carpet take a staple? French wrap must be stapled at the base of the riser and under the nose of the step, if the step looks "crisp" but the staples leave a mark will that make a difference to the homeowner who looks at it everyday? Secondly just because its French wrapped doesn't mean the step won't get a bubble in it.

I have seen two recent installs where the customer might have wanted the stairs restretched but because the carpet was Frenched it could not be pulled off of the stairs easily without damage to the carpet, so it was left alone. It's always easier to remove a waterfall install and restretch than french wrap. Lastly if the stairs are put over the correct pad and installed correctly bubbles should not occur.
- Bruce Morris/Morris Carpet Service

We really appreciate it when we get great feedback like this. I think it adds to the conversation as a whole.

Something Bruce said in his comments is also very true, and bears a bit of discussion: His last point was that if the correct pad is used underneath the carpet, then a lot of these issues can be avoided in the future.

Oftentimes, it's difficult to pay a premium for something like a pad, because who is ever going to see it? However, the pad is there for very specific reasons, not just to bump up the price of the overall sale. Investing in the appropriate support will make your carpet last much longer - this saves you money and keeps trash out of our landfills. A win-win.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Road Trip!!

Christian and I are back on the road for the PI - being the classy duo we are, we are hitting the discount stores looking for deals!

Today we drove all the way up to Seattle Premium Outlet mall, just outside of Marysville. We considered going as far north as Burlington, to hit the older outlet mall, but we aren't that dedicated to the cause... Actually, we just felt that it wouldn't be worth it for what we are trying to find for our readers.

We are looking for those types of deals that you can't find at the regular stores, even when they have smokin' sales.

Next stop: Southcenter. Yikes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Toy

I have finally caved - I bought a small labeling machine to use at home. Christian has gone on and on about his love affair with this thing, and I thought he was being a tad too organized for his own good. Well, he is, but he is also right!

Ohmygod, I LOVE this thing! It was on sale for about $15, so it's not fancy - but I spent all of last night hanging out in the playroom, labeling the kids storage bins and art supply containers.
My 6 year old figured out how to use it in about 1 minute.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

It looks like Christian and I will be giving a fun presentation at Kreiss Furniture Gallery in Bellevue in early June (possibly Thursday June 7th, or maybe the 15th...). We are brainstorming right now what we will be covering. Some of the ideas we'll be addressing might be: choosing quality furnishings, using color effectively with your furnishings and knowing the difference between making value choices instead of "cheap" choices. We'll also plan time for design Q&A's.

There is room for about 100 or so, let me know if you are interested in attending.

Of course there will be tasty drinks and appetizers - so it looks to be a fun night out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Upcoming Feature Story

Christian and I did some reconnaissance work at the Seattle Public Library last week, researching design styles from the past century. On Monday, I met the newspaper photographer down there and we sort of sneaked into the stacks to get some shots.

Not sure if that was totally kosher - but the librarians didn't seem too bothered. But I think it's a bit bizarre to stumble upon a photographer, with old magazines sprawled all over the place, snapping away amongst the stacks.

One thing that Christian and I decided about the building, designed by Rem Koolhaas - it's very cold and unwelcoming for those who are staying for long periods of time. The lighting is very harsh, the hard floor surfaces are not conducive to standing or sitting. So, while it looks totally hip, it's functionality is not exactly intuitive or easy. But it looks cool.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Noodling Around

Funny stuff, killing time surfing the internet.

I just found a link to one of our newspaper articles on a website that supports silk flowers. The reason I find this amusing is that the article they feature is the one where we bash silk flowers in unnatural colors.

In other words, if nature does not make baby blue roses, then neither should silk flowers!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Upcoming Story

Christian and I are getting ready to start our research for our next feature article. I'm rather excited about this one - we are going to dig into the past.... by researching design styles from vintage publications.

Doesn't that sound cool?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Designer TV

Last week I caught part of a rerun of the first episode of Top Design on Bravo, and all of the 2nd episode. I don't usually watch much television, but I have to admit to an unusual addiction to last summers' Project Runway.

So it was rather exciting to see a show dedicated to interior design competition. Would it be as engrossing? Would the personalities of the designers contribute as much to the plot of the show? Would they have the same ridiculous and totally unrealistic challenges?

Well, yes... the challenges are not exactly realistic (like not knowing who the client is that you are designing for! I mean, duh!) - but an element that was so engaging on Project Runway is missing.

What is it that makes compelling viewing? I'm not sure what the magic is - perhaps more of the back story on the people in the competition. There is no talented yet deeply flawed character, like Jeffrey from PR to watch with horrid fascination, either.

I'll probably catch a few more episodes to see what happens.

I also caught some HGTV shows this weekend (something I hardly EVER do!). Again, it was confirmed in my mind that many of the cheap solutions are just that - cheap. They look cheap, they don't have legs to last for a number of years, either.

I think good design contains elements of timelessness. Solutions should work for the long-term, AND should integrate into the lifestyles of the residents.

I notice that often these room makeovers don't connect AT ALL to the rest of the house. How does that serve the way someone lives? Dumb.

Oh well, it was better than watching a special on Anna Nichole!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Whirlwind Visit to the WIndy City

I spent last Thursday and Friday in Chicago - attended Colori's "Colori Me Red" party on Thursday night. (Colori is a hip Chicago C2-only paint store in the Bucktown neighborhood).
Ran out of booze by 8pm (ran and got more), so apparently it was a good time for the other 150 colorful celebrants!
Who knew that so many people would show up to celebrate a color?
I wasn't there long enough to get jet-lag, but I still was keeping me eyes open to design trends!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

virgin voyage...

My very first far so good. Thanks to Robin for getting me this far. So far I am running a very lo tech operation but realize I had better get busy and get connected! I am an Ipod, Blue Tooth and a digital comera all collecting dust.......

OK, is there an emily post quidline for signing off from a Blog... me thinks not. I'll just say ciao for now. Looking forward to hearing from our loyal readers..


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Feature Article Coming Up!

We just turned in the copy for our next Seattle PI "@Home" feature article. This month we will be focusing on fabrics for the home and where to find them locally. The article is slated to run on February 17th.

I haven't seen any of the images yet, that is always the fun part. Christian and I were really trying to find things to fit in a Chocolate scheme with accompanying blues, turquoises and pinks.

Too bad you won't be able to see the fabulous pink bubble fur... it sold out!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Testing, Testing

So - never one to be accused of being a techie - the question of the day is: Am I able to post to this blog as myself so people can read when I post compared to Christian?

Hmmmm.... I guess I'll have to hit "enter" to see. Wish me luck!

New Year - New Blog

We've decided it's time for the Design Files team to start a blog!

Both Robin and myself will be contributing, and we hope (once this is up and running) to hear from you!