Friday, March 22, 2013

Where the Grass is Greener

I bet you thought I was long gone. Well it's taken just over a year, but I'm back at aMaison.

For the most part it's because I got pregnant and thus busy growing a little one while taking care of our original little one. And now that three months with #2 have passed, I feel like we are getting out of the weeds. But I also wasn't blogging because I just wasn't inspired.

Until yesterday.

Photo via sodroom.com
We have been dying for spring here in Chicago. And yesterday my wee ones and some friends and I got a taste of it at a hip new place in the South Loop. Open for less than three weeks, Sod Room is an eco-friendly indoor playscape for tots. It's a toss up whether the moms or the kids liked it best.

I can't say enough about how wonderful it was, but for the sake of the blog I'll stick to what made it so well designed.


Our bud Andrew and my son Jack (right)
For sure the exposed brick, custom-built dollhouse, treehouse and train table, and cork floors were slick. The sustainably and responsibly made toys -- musical instruments, a rocking horse and trains -- kept the munchkins intently busy.

A snack spot with scaled-down chairs for shorties, free coffee and tea for grown-ups and tables built from reclaimed wood provided a place to recharge. And the skylight -- oh how wonderful it was to see the sunlight -- brought everyone much joy.


But the fabric installation that took center stage in the space stole my heart and piqued my curiosity for just who had dreamt this up.

Lucky for me, one of the owners was working the door, and we had time to chat about how he and his wife put it all together with the help of designer Jen Talbot. I instantly Googled her and turns out she loves fabric and prints and colors like me.

BFF and caped crusader Loie, guarding the dollhouse
I am simply smitten with the creativity and child-centered design behind Sod Room and the freshness and beauty it expresses.


Jack puts a cork in it
An example of interior design at its best form and function, I encourage everyone to check it out for themselves!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

They might be (White) Giants



As I was flipping through the March issue of Elle Decor -- a rare treat -- I couldn't help but notice the same shaggy ivory rugs cropping up throughout the book. First I saw the ones on Joseph Altuzarra shortlist, which he bought home from Morocco, my latest travel crush.  

Above photos via Elle Decor

He describes them as "comfortable and unpretentious," and I couldn't agree more. As I paged ahead, the same type of rug took center stage in Jackie Astier's library. It adds simple but noticeable pattern and texture to the sophisticated salon.


Photo via West Elm


After I finished the magazine, I dove into the latest West Elm catalogue, which coincidentally  focused on Moroccan crafts. And lo and behold they were selling these same rugs. Thank goodness for Google -- I hopped online immediately to learn more. Usually called Beni Ouarain after the tribe that weaves them, these rugs are a high-pile wool that is off white with a black diamond pattern.

They're great because the neutral pattern and style work seamlessly in a traditional or modern setting. (To learn more about the rugs' history and the people who weave them, check out this great link.

I'd like to think I was ahead of the trend with the Dash & Albert rug that holds court in our living room. A spin on the color and pattern, it was one of my first purchases for our new home. I chose it in part because it plays off the design on our air vents -- one of those original details that drew me to the house in the first place!

Chez moi


Monday, February 27, 2012

Wet Paint

I was looking through old photos and realizing all the things we've done around the house that I never got around to posting. One was a little DIY project I did immediatley after moving in, and it took only a matter of minutes.

We inherited a pair of large wicker chairs from our former landlord in the city. They were a unique style, but the sun-faded element had to go. So I bought a couple cans of spray paint that were similar to our red front door. I spread a tarp over the back lawn and voila - the chairs went from "meh" to marvelous. I adore the glossiness.
Before (left) and after (right), 2010
The pair came with a table, and it's on this summer's to-do list to spray paint that a different color, perhaps. Maybe a metallic? I'll probably spruce up the wicker seat pads at the time too, or if I get really adventuresome, use them as a template for a fabric covered cushion.

Here are the chairs on our front porch today. It's a fantastic spot to unwind with friends or neighbors, spring through fall, as we have done many times already. I can't wait for temps to break 50 so we can enjoy it again!
Painting project No. 2 was brightening up our staircase. When we purchased the home, all the wood floors had been refinished in a golden tone, but the stairs were untouched and a dark brown. To top it off was a blah brown runner.  
With and without the carpet 
Two more factors came into the consideration: The first landing has a gorgeous stained glass window, but the opacity lets in very little light. And the trim, like in the rest of the home, is painted white.
I was dying to brighten up this main thoroughfare, so after ripping off the carpet and padding, we had professionals sand down and restain the treads to match the floors. Then a painter matched the risers and the banister's posts to the trim. Here's a shot of the finished project at Christmastime.

Besides finishing off the wicker furniture, this year's painting goals are a rusting-out pair of metal chairs and a flaked-out wooden table, which reside on the porch, and adding a chevron pattern to the largest wall in the living room. I'll get right on all that...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pinned Down

Nine months. That's about how long it's been since I've posted. It is probably fitting to say the reason being is getting in sync with the baby who took 9 months to make!

I love being the mom to my sweet little boy, as exhausting as it can be at times. But now 9 months + into it, I am finally piecing together a routine that will allow me to get back into aMaison.

In the meantime, I'd say I've been mini blogging via Pinterest. It has been my addiction since March of last year, right before the little one arrived.


Many people have since discovered this habit-forming widget, including several friends -- which makes it all the more enslaving. If you aren't familiar with Pinterest, it's a place to organize and share all the delicious things you find on the Web. I'd like to think it's based on the pin boards interior designers use in presentations to convey a mood or show the fabrics and finishes for a space.


On Pinterest, people use pin boards to plan events, redo their homes, and save their favorite recipes. It's a smorgasboard for the eyes, especially for the visually inclined such as designers. It's just as much fun to save your own ideas as it is to explore others'.

So the goal for 2012 is to get back to blogging in between pins. And start carving out some time to bring to life the many ideas stored there! Between posts, you can follow me at pinterest.com/amaison/

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Egg-static

Arne Jacobsen's Egg
As Easter approaches, an article about the resurgence of egg chairs in my inbox caught my eye. The original Egg, designed by Arne Jacobsen, is one of my favorite pieces of mid-century furniture. I first sat in one at a preview for an auction at Wright and fell in love with the cozy wings that envelope you on top of a swivel base. The curves add that bit of whimsy I'm always seeking in design.

Here are a few other old and new egg-inspired chairs.


Henrik Thor-Larsen's Ovalia














Spacify's Hanging Egg



















Karim Rashid's Koop














Emma Selzer's Egg















Finally, it's not a egg chair, but an egg on a chair! For me, it isn't Easter without these nuggets of gooeyness and chocolate. Happy Easter and Passover!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

World Piece

Is it bad that our son is only 1 month old (tomorrow!) and I'm already designing his big-boy room?

Honestly I can't help it, with all the time I have to catch up on blogs while he's nursing. I start reading one, find a product that wows me and then I lose myself in the slippery slope that is the Internet.

It all started last night as I was checking on fellow Oak Parker Nicole at Making It Lovely, where I got a crush on the chair she just got for her daughter. She led me to Urban Outfitters, and I was overwhelmed by how many fun pieces (including the mid-century rocker), they've got right now -- and I got inspired.

For example, I love the idea of a huge map for the east wall, and I'd use this paper, this decal or my favorite choice: a large orange atlas tapestry! The color is so bright and unexpected, plus I love fabric as wall covering. It reminds me of the room on the cover of Susanna Salk's Room for Children. (Check out some of the fabulous designer's resources in this article).



I would carry out the orange to the rest of the walls, paining in a few jagged vertical lines to represent time zones. From there I might delve into a pirate theme, which came to mind after our son just received these witty washcloths from some friends.



While we're dreaming, I'd use this bed (even though it's discontinued) and pair it with this rag rug that looks like scraps of clothing from a bunch of washed up sailors -- all those stripes! Finally, if we had a separate kids' bathroom (again dreaming), this toothbrush holder would be a must. With the pirate theme, it all says a little Swiss Family Robinson to me, and what kid doesn't love that?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rue La La

Yesterday the 4th issue of online shelter mag Rue arrived on the Internet, and I'm so excited for this one! I had the time to do the interview at the beautiful Lincoln Park home of my interviewee, blogger Bailey McCarthy. We had fun talking about our common loves -- fabric and wallpaper (specifically Osborne & Little), decorating, 1st Dibs, dogs and babies (she is expecting a girl this summer), and blogging. Be sure to check out the spread, starting on page 104, of the beautiful imagery captured throughout her home. Bailey isn't afraid to use color, and it's a welcome set of images to enjoy as spring is trying to break through in Chicago.

I am so proud of Crystal and her team and how far they've taken the magazine, and I'm honored to be a continuing part of it. They are donating 10% of revenue generated by this issue to the relief efforts in Japan, and it is a good reminder that when things are going well we need to share that energy with those who are less fortunate.

I'm signing off now so I can get back to reviewing the gorgeous pages of the magazine!