Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Faucet Light?

Plumbing is so functional! Its parts aren't designed to be beautiful but to be functional.  Why is it when we use those same parts for another function they become some much fun? Check out these lights by Maxine Chanet.

I love the concept- a faucet on the wall. When you turn it on, out pours light.  I'd like to see the design hard wired in so that the base box wan't required.  That would complete the switch. Pun intended :-)!

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Mittens in May?

When I started this blog one of the themes I wanted to include was working though some of my design challenges in our own home. During the season of deep snow I commented on our mitten dilemma. Storage of all that winter stuff is clearly problematic in northern homes and qualifies as a design challenge. I have been collecting ideas, even sketched up a few using Google Sketchup. But like many challenges, time flies and nothing gets done.

I was excited by a brilliant solution from Brian Jewett shared over on the Apartment Therapy blog just this week. What better time to fix the mitten dilemma than the month of May!

He took clean, new paint cans and screwed them to the mudroom wall. Mittens and hats went inside, scarfs draped over, and a coat could hang on the end.  Simply and funky. One could be put up for each family member so everyone (in a dream world) would be able to find their mittens!

Clean, empty paint cans are easily available here from Amazon for $4.79 each! Definitely an affordable solution.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Curb Appeal • Well Kind Of

The term "curb appeal" makes me laugh when I think of my town. We have no curbs. We have no sidewalks. We have one stop light.  This is home.

Our home is at the end of a long driveway and it isn't clearly visible from the road. When I work on improving curb appeal I am working on the entrance to my driveway. Soon after building our home (in 1978) I started building stonewalls because we are located on a significant hillside. The hill needed to be retained, we were young and ambitious, and we had no money but plenty of rock. I taught myself how to build dry construction stonewalls.  I built one stone wall that framed the culvert and retained the hillside at the beginning of our driveway. Unfortunately, I have had to rebuild it many times and had given up. Unidentified vehicles have repeatedly "bumped" into my stone retaining wall leaving what had been puzzled together, in disarray.

This is the "before" shot.  It was in sad shape. This year David suggested instead of rebuilding it, let's resize it and replace most of it with pachysandra and ferns. It would repair itself when errant drivers felt a need to back into it. I thought that was a great idea.  When the sun came out last weekend I started in.

David assisted with demolition and digging - I hate to dig! It is such a challenge in this rocky New England soil. David doesn't like it either but he appreciates my stone walls so he digs for me!

To a stone wall builder the following is a beautiful shot- a field of relatively flat stone, displayed in a single layer in position for building.  All of these rocks came from the previous wall and many were imported to this site 30 years ago from my parents' and grandparents' homes several towns away. (They have beautiful flat rock there!) Although I do find and treasure some flat rocks here on our property most are what I would kindly call "free form" - not flat but not round either, certainly challenges.

As we demolished it was clear that the project was going into high speed. Most of the entrance to our driveway was blocked by the stone. It is a goal in stone wall work to limit the number of times you have to move a rock.  I needed to have this wall back together again by the end of the day or move the rocks out of the way.

I decided to move the northern end back into the hill which is why David was digging for me.  I still needed a stone wall at that end but felt if it was backed in further, it might be saved from bumps. This is the lunch break photo below.

I kept working and by supper time I was one tired lady but the wall did snake its way around the big tree and curl back into the hillside right below the main collision zone.

I had done a good job with rock estimation.  David did truck away a small load for another wall and brought in some processed aggregate for the base but then the rain returned.  That was a good thing because my tired body needed a break!

Our DIY project for this weekend was to finish the landscaping.  We transplanted many pachysandra plants and three Christmas Ferns plus brought in a load of dark cedar mulch. I worked carefully to allow the natural ferns already on the hillside to stay and flourish.

This is the after shot.  The pachysandra covers the hillside to the left and it will take a year or two to fill in and completely cover the hillside.  We do know it does well here and the deer only eat it during a really tough winter.

Job done! What's next?  A Memorial Day Picnic of course!  Enjoy yours.

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Books of Interest from Amazon

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wanderings • Paradise City • May Version

I have blogged previously about the Paradise City Show in Marlborough, MA. If you missed that show I recommend the Paradise City Art Festival in Northampton, MA. It is going on NOW - Memorial Day Weekend. I always love the Northampton shows because they have a wonderful collection of sculpture for the garden on display. I especially like the water fountains created by Louis Pomerantz of Vermont.

Photo via Cairn Croft

Photo via Paradise City Art Festival

One would look terrific in my garden which already celebrates the beauty of stone.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, May 27, 2011

Graduate Idea-

I received a post card from my sister-in-law last week.  She was vacationing in Hawaii and sent a post card! I haven't received one in a long time.  Everyone I know sends me texts and phone photos to share their experiences.  But post cards are nostalgic.  When I left for my two week stay at Girl Scout camp each summer my mom sent me with addressed post cards to send to all the relatives.  This pillow struck that same nostalgic chord.

What a great gift for the high school graduate going off to college- a dorm room pillow made like a postcard with a meaningful message inked into the message side.  I love the red, white and blue braided cord and the addition of a stamp.  Purchase a pillow you design from OliveHandmade on Etsy

DIY Idea- What would you use on the reverse side?  The ability to print on fabric from many inkjet printers allows for many options.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunshine! Sunburst Clocks

The long, gray rainy spell has ended and the May sunshine inspired me for today's post.  Check out these sunburst clocks......

The first two are designed by Brian Schmitt. via/DesignMilk

The final example is unique because it has no hands yet tells time via protruding shapes.  Beautiful concept, challenging clock!   It is designed by Matthew Lechowick.

David and I are on an as yet unsatisfied search for the perfect analog clock for our kitchen wall.  Not only do we want it a beautiful design but we want it to be easy to read. We want it to have numbers. We have been searching for years, purchased a few and are still hunting. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine if it is shining where you are!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clothes Pin Lamp!

This design qualifies as POP Art in my book. It combines several characteristics I especially like into one design -

  • Takes something small and makes it BIG
  • Takes something commonplace and uses it in a creative way
  • Shows humor
  • Is a great idea- innovative and stunning

Just check out this lighting fixture by Brooklyn (NY) base designer Steffi Min:



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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Photograph Starts an Idea

When personalizing your space, you start from the things that make you happy.

I was out walking on the hill behind our home earlier this week and I snapped this picture. Dandelion puffs make me smile (even though they create more dandelions). They evoke positive childhood memories and remind of a glass paper weight I used to have with a beautiful perfect puff frozen inside.

Starting from that inspiration I started looking and sure enough, other designers love dandelion puffs as well. Look at some of these examples:

I have never used a wall decal but I see them as an affordable solution to achieving a dramatic impact.  This example (and many more) is available from Coolgraphicss on Etsy.

Here, a similar graphic is used in fabric for pillows. Available on Etsy from NancysBagsEtc.

This print is a more stylized version of the same subject matter. Very striking. Available on Esty by EcoPrint.

The theme crosses materials as well.  Here the dandelion puff is pierced into porcelain to create tea candles. Available on Etsy from Wapa Studio.

The lesson - An easy route to personalized design is to identify a theme that makes you happy, go to Etsy and search on that theme.  I found all these wonderful possibilities with a simple search on dandelion puffs.  And I didn't even begin to review all the possibilities.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, May 23, 2011

Shelf Design Explosion • Many Funky Ideas

My archive is bursting with creative shelving ideas. Design is this area is exceptionally creative, varied and fun. Here are some great examples.

The first series is from Lagilinea. via/InteriorDesign-Center

The next unit is designed by Bashko Trybek and is a great study in geometry and minimalism. via/DesignMilk

The shelves designed by Caterina Tiazzoldi come in a variety of monochromatic choices. via/Shoebox Dwelling

DesignMilk also had a link to these off kilter shelves by Jeb Jones.

By far the funkiest of this group is the Wisdom Tree by Jordan Mila Designs.  Looks like it came right out of a Dr. Seuss book. via InteriorDesign-Center

And even all of these doesn't empty my archive of absolutely cool shelving ideas.  I don't know about you but as I look at all these great designs my DIY tendencies perk up and take notice!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zen Blocks • More Info

In my post yesterday I introduced you to my Zen Blocks.  I couldn't lead you to a source. Thanks to Karen, today I can.

These are handcrafted and available at ZensBlocks on Etsy. Cost $25.50 per set. The current sets available are made from walnut. The creator writes, "zenblocks. They are begging to be stacked, shuffled and contemplated. They require patience and practice, a clear mind and a steady hand. If you have none of those, they work just as well being banged around by a kid, but be prepared when the kid starts stacking them higher than you."

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wooden Rocks?

I love both wood and stone, in nature, as building materials, as decor. Imagine how happy I am when the two are combined! Wooden rocks? Exactly! I have found a variety of such applications.

This Pavé seating collection for the Italian design firm Kreoo is what caught my eye most recently. I saw them in the New England Home Design Blog. My assumption is I would never be able to afford them but ohhhh they are beautiful, minimal and would be a perfect addition to my very different garden. I even have the perfect spot......

Not too long ago I stumbled upon Branch, an online store featuring sustainable designs for living. I found many things there that I loved but especially the bamboo pebbles.

Much smaller in scale, much more affordable and just beautiful.  They are sold in families of thirteen.

Several years ago, K&J gave me a set of wood mini-boulders handcrafted from solid mahogany to build interior stone walls with. They too are good for reflective building and relaxation. They were purchased on Etsy but I couldn't find any current contact information there.  Let me know if you created them and I'll spread the word!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, May 20, 2011

Transplanting Wildflowers • 2011 Successes

I have blogged regularly about our deer population and our resulting approach to landscaping.  We continue to study the forests, look for interesting plants that the deer don't seem to be eating, and then try transplanting some of them into our natural garden. Last spring David and I decided to do some small batches of different things to see what died, what lasted the season, but most importantly, what bloomed again the following year.  This is year two for a group of wild flowers that we were quite successful with.

We found two wild Columbine plants on our roadside. Both have returned this year, doubled in size and given off twice as many blossoms. The intricacies of these flowers make them a favorite of mine. How could anything so delicate be so wild? 

The woods surrounding out home are filled with jack-in-the-pulpits. We weren't sure if they would transplant so only brought in about a dozen. Most have returned and are sprouting jacks right now. We have this planted on the upper side of the path leading down to the stream so you can see Jack without bending over.

I like King Solomon's Seal not for the tiny flowers but for the effect a grouping of the plants makes together. It grows in an arching stem with large leaves shooting out to both sides and is effective in groups. About 50% of the plants we transplanted survived.  We'll try more.

This wild geranium is really in its third year here. This beautiful flower grows along our roadside but generally as singletons. We transplanted a bunch and planted them in a clump. They not only have a wonderful flower in May but the leaf is very attractive after flowering is done.  

The above plant is a very pretty ground hugging tiny darker leafed plant. We find them sparsely located in our woods. We were successful in planting a small grouping into a darker corner. It has a beautiful variegated leaf with red veins. Anyone know its name?

This gardening project started years ago with transplanting ferns. Ferns have done remarkably well both as dramatic accent plants and coverage for larger areas. They come back year after year and require very little maintenance - my type of gardening to be sure!

I used the Connecticut Botanical Society website for help in identifying the wild flowers. 

Additional note on life:  It has been gray, wet and rainy for a long stretch here in southern New England.  I have been wanting to do this post for several days because the wild flowers are in bloom but the lighting for photography is so gray and flat.  Finally, I took the pictures even though the day is again gray.  No sooner do I finish this post than the sun comes out!  I would have done it earlier had I known it would bring out the sunshine. Off the take more photos.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy