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bright color + brass hardware = campaign mod

30 Sep

Image courtesy (Traci Zeller)

There are two vintage furniture shops in our neighborhood.  They sit side by side.  The first one on the corner is called Holler & Squall.  (Zak and Gillette are two of the most amazing shopkeepers you could meet.  We’re very lucky to have gotten to know them).   The second shop next door, Jarontiques, is more in line with the mid-century style to which we’ve all become accustomed (but cooler, and definitely more hipster than the expected DWR-lite stuff you often find at these shops).

Now, if you would have asked me a few years ago what my design style gravitated to, I would have walked you right up to a Nelson bubble lamp and an Eames fiberglass chair in celery green, and been done with it.  But I have a husband, and his taste leans way more to the browns and oranges than the cool blues and greens I love.   Taxidermy? Yes.  Worn down leather club chairs? Totally.

campaign chest, Lonny Magazine

All of this is a super roundabout way of explaining (to myself, mostly) why I’m so enamored with these “campaign chests/dressers,” which I surely would have dismissed as heavy and overwrought a few years ago.  But having happened on the image at top the other day, I’m newly curious.

Apparently, this is not a new thing to the internets (i.e., I’m very late; see roundup from Apartment Therapy here).  But for those of you with changing tastes, or new winter clothes storage needs, or newly-graduated-from-layette-furniture homes like mine, it could help.

So, first, to browse.  Here’s the Pinterest page.  Second, to learn.  From Wikipedia:

Campaign furniture is evocative of luxurious travel and a time gone by… The appeal of its nature has been picked up on and modern furniture made in a campaign style is produced by a number of makers today. Often, the consideration of portability has not been a factor with the overriding concern being to achieve the look by adding brass corners and strap work. Another group of manufactures have produced direct copies of period campaign furniture seeing that there is still a call for it today be it for safaris or the high class camper.

Kelly Wearstler vanity

Oops.  Ok, so the stuff we love isn’t exactly British Army Issue (good thing, with all the not-so-appealing connections to colonialism and stuff), and is much too heavy to fold up and carry with us, and was certainly not EVER intended to arrive in bright green or hot pink. No mind.

So you want one? How hard do you want to work?  Let’s take it in three steps:

Rast Ikea hack

For Chic Sake blog hack

1.  Hack it.  It’s Ikea furniture, paint and hardware. Ikea hacks have done it, so have the For Chic’s Sake blog.  It doesn’t look super hard.  Apparently, you can get the brass from Ansaldi & Sons.

2. Refinish it.  The amazing Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook did this herself.  Bless her.

Ebay treasure, 9/30

3.  Buy it. (My preferred method).  They’re all over Ebay.  This one (above) is a little different, but I really love the style and the storage possibilities.  Currently at $600 and shipped from Miami.  Think of all that BabyMod you’re about to throw away after the drawers are falling in for the third time, and it may not seem like too much of an investment.


inspiration board: girly girl meets mod mom

8 Feb

So you’ve got a modern home.  And you’ve got a little girl who’s grown out of her crib, conversion kit to toddler bed, and those cute monkey wall graphics you bought while in the ‘nesting’ phase of your pregnancy.   What’s more, she’s decided she loves pink.  LOVES pink.  Oh, and Mom, she’s also really loves princesses.  And tutus.  And anything shiny, glittery, or reflective.

At RFYO, we’re here for you.  So let’s take a deep breath.  And let’s start with a wonderful compromise. . . a vintage bed frame.

I discovered this  reupholstered set of french ‘shabby chic’ bed frames at an Etsy shop called Antique2Chic, based out of Birmingham, Michigan.   The beds are $600 each – I agree, a bit steep – but consider them the centerpiece of the room.  The fabric is a beautiful blush-toned linen, perfect for you to play with your pinks and also to be a bit brave with the rest of your decor.  And the nice thing is that once you have the bed in place, you’re now free to use super-new and modern pieces to offset the vintage feel of the piece.

So, Mod Mom, what’s next?

How about going black and white and really BOLD with your graphics?  I think butterflies would be a pretty good bet too.  Here’s my suggestions, including a mix of Kartell, George Nelson, IKEA with some Target thrown in for good measure.  Click here (girly chic) to enlarge the PDF.

1.  French hand-painted mahogany twin beds with linen upholstery, $600, Antique2Chic, Etsy

2. Flannel brocade hook rug, $473 (large size), Layla Grace

3. Set of beautiful 5×5 photo prints, $8.50 each, Lola’s Room, Etsy

4. Circus stripe black and white curtain panels (shown – $180 each at Rosenberry Rooms), similar fabric available for $6.98/yard on Amazon

5. George nelson Ball Clock, $385, Velocity Art & Design (an excellent shop)

6. “Princess” paint color swatch, Benjamin Moore

7. Xhilaration Pixelated Butterfly bed in a bag, $64.99, Target

8.  Edland dresser, $299, IKEA 299

9. Crystorama (!!!) Angelina blush mini chandelier, $229.91, Lamps Plus (A great find, and small enough to look cute)

10.  Kartell Optic storage cube in clear, $283, Design Public

acrylic, lucite, perspex and plexiglas

11 Aug

cactus chair, Deger Cengiz, Voos furniture

A recent comment by a reader named Kristin has literally kept me up at night.  She writes, “Any ideas on how to incorporate baby-safe play areas with daily household areas?”

This is a HUGE question, and one I haven’t seen being talked about or dealt with in the traditional home decor magazines (although there’s a gorgeous kids room featured in July/August’s House Beautiful, I’m sure many interior designers would rather forget that human beings actually start at age 0…) Of course, you can always count on a heated debate about baby/child “proofing” on — on one side, “if your child behaves him/herself, you don’t need any,” on the other, “yes, padded corner cushions are ugly, but they’re necessary, and soon they’ll be unnecessary again.”  My take on the whole challenge is a combination of the two philosophies.  You want your home to be -and stay- as visually pleasing and comfortable as possible, AND it needs to be safe for all the people who live there.

Which sometimes means swapping out the (super-indulgent and big-treat-to-ourselves) Czech-crafted mid-century wood and glass cocktail table which sits center-stage in our living room in favor of something a little more … destruction-proof.

adair table,

Enter the fabulous material known as acrylic AKA lucite, perspex (for those in the Colonies) and my personal favorite, ‘plexiglas’ (a term coined in the ’30’s, but to me will always scream ’70s.)  They’re all name-brand alibis for a material properly known as polymethyl methacrylate.  Heavy on the meth there… good to know it’s  referred to as PMMA in the science world.

Starck's lou lou chair

I’ve been thinking about how wonderful acrylic furniture is, especially in small apartments like our own.   Apart from the inevitable scratches (our Kartell bedside tables are special victims), I can’t really see any disadvantages of acrylic furniture in a household with children, except maybe being knocked over and played with (e.g. kid-sized Ghost chairs for $133 at Room & Board).  The coffee tables we’re looking at, including the Adair (above, available at for $223.50) are especially sturdy.  Another favorite of mine is the CB2 Peekaboo table, available at for $250, which is made by simply melting two curves into a thick sheet of acrylic.

Dorothy Thorpe at Natural Pond Vintage

As you may have been thinking, acrylic is a bit of a ‘retro’ material… meaning you’ll see some of this stuff on Mad Men, perhaps Life on Mars, and maybe even Hot Tub Time Machine. (Basically, there’s acrylic for every decade).

A perfect 60’s example are these “Lucite Pretzel” candle holders, designed by Dorothy Thorpe and available for $179 at Natural Pond Vintage on Etsy.  As noted in the listing, “her Allegro glassware has been seen on numerous episodes of the AMC show Mad Men.”

cake stand at fabulousmess

This cake stand/display shelf is reminiscent of the above candelabras.  Make a toy collection look especially fancy, or add a fern for that 70s touch.  You can find it at the (super-fun) Fabulousmess shop on Etsy for $50.

unicorn at twin hearts vintage

And lastly, because it made me laugh, and then made me slightly nostalgic for the die-cut nameplate (in mirrored acrylic) I’d glued to my bedroom door as a kid.  Are little girls still into unicorns these days?  I don’t even know.  But if your girl is, you can’t beat this “vintage ’80s mirrored lucite unicorn,” sold by Twin Hearts Vintage, on Etsy, for $14 bucks.

Not exactly ‘childproofing’, but if you’re redecorating, some vintage-y acrylic furnishings could be a great way to go.   Kristin, I’ll be thinking about your question and get back to you with more suggestions in the future.  Readers, any tips for making stylish spaces more kid-friendly? Send them my way.

By the way, the Cactus chair at top is available for around $3000 via Voos Furniture, if you’re up for the challenge.

mason jars everywhere

24 Jun

assorted antique fruit jars, on

It seems like there’s a new restaurant opening every day in our neighborhood.  And although the latest, named Seersucker, doesn’t offer the most unique concept for a restaurant (I think it’s the third ‘new’ place to offer southern-influenced ‘fine dining’ within a one-mile radius), there’s something about this one that makes me want to pay a visit.  I hate to sound fickle for saying this about a restaurant, but Seersucker – more than its competitors – really Looks The Part of a modern Southern hot spot.

image courtesy New York Magazine

As described in New York Magazine, the 40-seat spot features “a zinc bar, whitewashed brick, and wood salvaged from old snow fences.” More to the point, a review on Chowhound reads, “The food was kind of like the decor, simple and comfortable with a lot of style.”  Personally, I think it’s the mason jars that make the design.  In this age of  small-batch-locally-sourced-homemade-and-handmade foodstuffs, mason jars are more relevant than ever (and bring to mind the best local pickles, kimchee, fruit preserves and anything else featured in Edible Brooklyn).

our beach treasures, next to our Preston North End memorabilia

But I love mason jars for their usefulness and storage potential.  As shown above, this jar (which was left at our house by friends and subsequently ‘reclaimed’) is now on display with all the rocks we collected on beaches during family holidays.  I’m racking my brain to find images of a gorgeous nursery I once spotted, featuring gallon-sized mason ‘tubs’ as storage for puzzle pieces, Legos, and other miscellany.  What I found so charming was the way the lids were painted to match the decor (which would usually be a bit wedding-favor-ish for my taste, but it really worked in this instance).

So, how about it?

for collections, not canning

I discovered that Ball now sells gallon jars for just this purpose.  They’re called  “125th anniversary ‘collectors’ gallon jars” (meaning they’re not meant for canning), they’re $20 each at, and they’re super-cute.

But if the notion of a gallon jug made of glass makes you a bit nervous (as it does me), I found these super-cute PET plastic jugs, which would do beautifully with a bit of acrylic paint to fancy up the white lids.

Paint me!

Available at Freund Container, the gallon jugs are $4 each.  The comparable glass versions are also available at $18 each.

Need more inspiration?  Mason jars are ALL over the Internets – tutorials on how to make mason jar lamps (Design*Sponge has the best one), photos of flower-filled jars for wedding decorations (Amanda Pair’s snaps are beautiful), images of artsy-craftsy handmade porcelain lanterns, and offers for boatloads of soy candles.

'mason jar with marbles' by ria hills, $120

And, lastly, I discovered this BEAUTIFUL pastel artwork, created by a woman named Ria Hills.  At 7″x7″ it’s a bit small, but I believe it would look beautiful in a larger frame with red or blue matting.   And what’s more down-home and kid-friendly than a jar of marbles?

roll call

14 Apr

Vintage bus roll, found here

A few years ago, we had one of these old oilcloth sheets (the MTA made them for both buses and subways) haphazardly hanging in the living room.

The only picture I could find

When we moved, we sold it on Ebay, and definitely not for the amount that this guy is fetching for them.  Because apparently now the vintage MTA signs are incredibly popular, appearing in movies and on the sets of multiple TV shows (you can read JR’s page for more information). 

If you’re not picky about destination or location, he will pick a section of an old route roll for you for around $100 bucks.  

Luckily, I’ve found some great alternatives, if you like the style of these old signs and want to support handmade art by small businesses.

Wooden sign, Signs of Vintage, Etsy $46-60

Signs of Vintage is a great shop on Etsy.  Among other lovely hand-painted signs, they’ll custom-make one of these destination signs for you, based on the locations you choose.  Memorialize your favorite stops on the bus, or recall the highlights of a recent trip to New York. 

Bedtime Bus Roll Print, Sweet Prints, MiniStyle, $32.65 (US)

Just discovered the MiniStyle website and I’m in love with their selection.  True to the reputation of kids’ shops in Australia, this site offers a variety of beautifully-designed stuff for kids – and yes, they ship to the US.   This poster, by Sweet Prints (if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years as a branding consultant, it’s that kids’ and pets’ companies take the cake when it comes to punny brand names) is my absolute favorite.   A clever take on the bus roll original (complete with ‘slight printer roller marks to add to the vintage feel of the poster’), you can even customize the order of events to accommodate your baby’s unique bedtime routine. 

Lastly, all this talk of white-on-black print reminds me of these:

A small sample of designs inspired by Experimental Jetset

I found a great article by the guys who brought to the world the original John&Paul&Ringo&George T shirt, which then spawned a mass of imitators (I’m sure you have your own favorite).  It’s a fascinating story and an example of the internet/cultural meme at work.  Create your own with subway or bus stops, and the world might seriously twist inside out.

Any other examples of white type/black background designs you’ve seen lately? Let me know!

salvage shop picture frames

18 Mar

Spring! Finally.
In honor of today’s perfect weather, we took a long walk, which gave me the opportunity to visit some of my old favorite haunts on the way to Prospect Park.

One of the best shops for homemade, authentic handicrafts is called Cog & Pearl. It’s on 5th Avenue in Park Slope – if you live nearby I highly recommend a visit.  It’s great for gifts (for oneself and others), the items never feel too cutesy or hipster-ish, and there’s always something affordable to take home with you.

Liam’s 4 lens camera photo 

Liam’s mum’s Venice watercolor

Today’s visit reminded me of the two picture frames we’d purchased there.  Made of tin ceiling tiles and old clapboard wood, they’re made by a group of folks who run/own an architectural salvage store in Oneonta, NY.   The company is called Architques – but the frames, mirrors, and shelves are creative by-products of their salvage business (New York Salvage). 

I love the idea of ‘upcycling’ when it comes to home decor, especially when used as a contrast or accent piece in a modern room.  Here’s a description from the Architiques website:

“Our decorative home accents are made from Authentic Architectural building materials. Antique ceiling tin, Old wood(molding, clapboard & beadboard) is used to make these one-of-a-kind pieces. We try to keep our products as authentic as possible to have a variaty of colors, so there are times when our salvaged materials are enhanced with color. Shades may vary, level of distress varies & due to our ever changing stock, our tin patterns vary.”

Tin and wood frames, up to 8×10, $38-$75

The salvage shop has some interesting finds as well. 

Carnival ride sign, 1950’s, $350

Their Ebay store seems a bit more affordable, but to be honest, I’d stick with the frames.

lets go to the races

21 Feb

There’s an amazing little spot on Atlantic Avenue in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn called Vintage Signage. I hesitate to call it a ‘store’ because it doesn’t seem like they actually sell anything there. Packed to the rafters with everything from vintage Bibendum figurines to just-plain-old Keith Richards posters, the store literally spills out onto the sidewalk in front. However, nothing in this closet-like space seems to feature an actual price tag. In following that old adage about ‘if you have to ask..,’ I’ve never ventured beyond browsing.

Walking by the shop the other day, I just had to stop and take a few pictures of this odd piece of hardware. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And if it’s still there when I walk by again later this week, I’m going to find out how much it costs.

Twelve race horses with numbered red jackets are attached to spokes. The whole thing is metal, and it spins around a mounted base. I have no idea what it is. My dad suggested that it was probably attached to a game in the old penny arcades. If it’s not too heavy, I think it’d be perfect to mount sideways on a wall as both decorative toy and folk art. I could see an entire room designed around it – reds and whites, flags and jockeys’ uniform patterns.

In related news…

You’ve probably heard of Little Sapling Toys, makers of the coolest handmade stackers, teethers and rattles. If you haven’t yet, check out their shop on Etsy.

Mod Toddler Rocking Horse, Little Sapling Toys, Etsy, $65

In keeping with the race horse theme, I discovered their beautiful Mod Toddler Rocking Horse. It’s a beautiful piece of handmade woodwork. At $65 you’ll have a unique heirloom to treasure, long after your kids have outgrown it. Plus, with every toy sold, Little Sapling plants a tree through Trees for the Future.

Stumbled upon any other equestrian finds? Let me know in the comments section.