Wednesday, August 31, 2011

After the Hurricane

Hurricane Irene roared through here earlier this week. We are still without power and sustained very little damage personally and for this I am grateful. Because we live in a rural, sparsely populated area, I expect we will be one of the last to have power restored so we are developing coping systems. We do have a generator but the house isn't wired for it so it isn't hooked into our systems. That means no water, septic or stove but lights and Internet!  That said, the loss of routine and the challenges have certainly impacted my blogging but here are a few photos from the week.

First a photo of our rain chain in action. I blogged about Rain Chains earlier as the hurricane was arriving and they really do work quite nicely.

And then here they are once the sun came out again. I like the visuals of rain chains much more than traditional downspouts.

Shortly after the winds died down we went out to survey the damaged.  We lost a few big trees in the woods and many, many smaller branches. The stream was really churning but the bridge we built together this summer was above the high water mark.  We did cable it in place but it wasn't threatened.

Even though we have no power, we needed to start daily life again so we rigged up the generator and got water to flush toilets.  This is what my beautiful portico looks like for the foreseeable future. It is the staging ground for our meager utilities.

And this is what my kitchen looks like - extension cords everywhere. Certainly not a safe set-up and I am very glad we have no children here! But it is wonderful to have lights, charge up the computers, iPads and cell phones, and be able to make a cup of hot coffee!

And after it all I noticed this little fellow hanging out in our fern garden.  

It is great to see the sunshine!  My thoughts and prayers to all those that are experiencing difficulties from this storm and the aftermath. And my thanks to the utility crews out there working to restore power!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Deep Dark Africa

Recently a post about an online store on Apartment Therapy caught my eye. Apartment Therapy is an interesting site because it truly is directed to those that have apartments and to city living.  But because apartments are often tiny and space awareness is always a plus, many of their ideas and posts relate to those of us that don't live in McMansions. We also don't aspire to living in McMansions. We like the small but beautiful approach to living even if it is in the country. It is also a greener approach in keeping the carbon foot print as small as possible.  But when push comes to shove it is all about vacuuming.  I swear people that live in McMansions need ride-on vacuum cleaners! Nuff said- back to the eye-catching online store Deep Dark Africa.

Take a look at these items.....

Image credit: Deep Dark Africa

I was stopped by the beautiful and minimal photography of these very natural handcrafted items.  That made me look.

I then read some of the comments posted. So many found the name suspect.  I just liked the natural simplicity of the products. They reflect my design soft spots- wood, natural, handmade.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rain Chains

As I sit here listening to Hurricane Irene howl outside, I figured I'd try to get another post up before we lose power.  What better topic than rain chains.

But first I'll start with a rant about gutters. They are a maintenance nightmare. We designed our home with deep overhangs and landscaping to allow for no gutters.  Then when we built our free-standing garage we went for simple and added gutters. Wrong choice! If you can, design without gutters.

Rain chains are an alternative to closed down spouts. They can be creative and visually interesting, becoming a pleasing water feature.

Here are some examples.

A view of a chain in action

The Internet has become impossibly slow so I will sign off for now and continue this exploration after the storm.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Balls and Wood- Two Favorites

Ah yes! I love wood and I collect balls.  So when I see furniture that combines the two with a contemporary and creative twist, I take notice.

Check out this stunning coffee table by Liz Boscacci. She wanted to learn how o use a lathe to turn wood.  Each ball was created separately and then she joined them together by hand.

The base is made of turned mahogany balls. This detail shows the beauty of the wood.

Definitely impossible to keep dust free though!


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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Have you made the Switch?

Mail time used to be a very exciting time for me. I just couldn't wait to get my hands on the catalogs and view all those beautiful ideas. I saved them. No, let's be honest. I hoarded them. I memorized them. I loved them.

Times have changed. Fewer come by mail by my interest had shifted even before the decline. I still save them but often they go into the storage baskets without my even thumbing through them.

Today I decided it was recycling time. Without even sorting out my tried and true favorites I just stacked them into bags and deposited them in the recycle bin in the garage.

I don't want you to think I have lost interest though! No it has all been transferred to the web. Most frequently I do my browsing on the iPad through various RSS readers. I am currently switching between Perfect RSS and Reeder. And I just started using Google Catalogs.

Are you getting your catalogs online? Any favorite readers or advice for those just making the switch?

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stair Railings

I've been posting off and on about stairs so today I am going to hone in on just railings.  Stair railings are a place people easily over do and a search on creative stair railings will yield some over the top results.  I have found some that I especially liked.  A different way to upgrade my staircase might be to instead change the railings.

Interesting that all the designs I selected are based on the twig theme. My love of wood comes through even when it is translated into forged metal!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's About time

I am still searching for the perfect clock for my kitchen. Requirements include:
  • Must be analog
  • Contemporary in styling
  • Easy to tell time down to the minute
  • Wood is a plus- cherry a huge plus

This one was in a post on Apartment Therapy.  It has potential. But maple not cherry.

It is from the RAW design collection by Stanley Ruiz and is available for purchase here.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, August 19, 2011

Storage Stairs

As I have been exploring creative stairs one category that appears often is stairs with storage incorporated underneath.  There are many great ideas.  Some would even pass Connecticut Building Codes!

So many great ideas.  It is a great use of space. As we work to live in smaller, more energy efficient spaces and reduce our footprint these designs make great sense.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stairs as a Geometry Lesson

I have always pictured stairs as based on rectangular treads. I was inspired to see some variations that experiment with geometry!

First two examples of triangles....

From the Shallard House via

The then one with three dimension trapezoids- not sure what the proper geometrical term is.....

Via designed by Florence architect Guido Ciompi for the Gray hotel in Milan, Italy.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Continuing with Stairs

My stairs theme was interrupted by our trip to Bedrock Gardens. Time to get the blog back on track.

Stairs, like fireplaces are obvious focal points in a home. They deserve some extra thought when designing.  Here are several examples based on the tree theme.

This first is from the Wharton Esherick House and Studio in Paoli, PA. Esherick was a sculptor that worked primarily in wood and his sculpting regularly carried over into his home, furniture and stairs. His home and studio are open for tours by appointment.  Great place for a wandering! (Thanks to Charlotte for the reminder!)

This one uses the tree as well. It is from StairPorn. com (Horrible name for a website!) they do have a lot a great stair examples though!

My last example doesn't use a tree but includes a beautiful almost poetic metal railing sculpted to be branch like. Via The

Right down to the roots!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gears and Stuff!

I have shared with you before my love of gears.  I have tried hard to collect them but they are very difficult to find.  I have one leaning next to the stone wall in front.

And a collection from CB2 in another corner.

The big one I found while hiking in the woods.  It is left from deserted farm equipment from years gone by.  The smaller ones were One-of-a-Finds that showed up at CB2. It is rare to find gears available for purchase although there are some beauties at Restoration Hardware right now. A collection becomes more special when it is a hunt to find new additions. I can only say I was jealous with the treasure trove I saw this weekend.

While exploring Bedrock Gardens part of the tour leads one through the inspiring collection of found metal objects waiting for Jill Nooney to craft into sculpture.  Stacked there amongst the rusted debris were not just one but many gears the likes of witch I have never seen.

And then there were more just casually leaning against a birch tree.

And still more!

Not to show too much favoritism - there were also collections of old metal wheels-

And chains-

Any of which would have been welcomed additions to my garden. I asked but she wasn't willing to part with them. Apparently some of the gears are from the old Cog Railway that climbs to the top of Mount Washington. Oh what a find!

I know I have a decided industrial and mechanical bent in my interests and it comes through in my decor. When the sun comes out again I'll take photos to show you what I have scattered about my home and gardens. In the meantime I'll just keep searching for more.  

Anyone know of good source for old gears?

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wanderings • Bedrock Garden

If you live in New England or are traveling here put this place on your list of special places to visit. Yesterday David and I traveled to the little town of Lee, NH in the southeast corner of the state to visit Bedrock Gardens.  I heard about it from a tip from my sister-in-law and it was beautiful and inspiring both from the landscape and gardening angle as well as the sculptural approach.

I took oodles of pictures despite the fact the sun was hiding. The gardens were an artful blend of every shade of green sprinkled with every color of the rainbow. It is about 30 acres mixed with vistas as well as nooks and crannies and the views are spectacular on a large sale as well as the tiny details.

This peaceful retreat is the work of Jill Nooney and Bob Munger and it represents years of their combined talents in sculpture, gardening, engineering and design. They blend whimsey....

with serenity.......

and provide personal spaces for one to enjoy in all weather and moods.

The grounds include meandering waterways guarded by still more sculptures...

Of course they have crafted stone towers which I loved....

and interspersed those with sculptures of varied materials.

The acres are divided into many different gardens, woodland gardens, meadowlands, dark woods, rock gardens and waterfalls. There is a secluded tea house complete with bed for sleeping over. The tea house looks out over this cascading woodland vista.  Oh what a site to wake up to....

I just couldn't stop taking pictures..... Up close in the rock garden

or over the grassy acres.

To visit the gardens you must plan. They are only open to the public 4 days a year and the calendar is posted on their website. You can sign up for a post card reminder the following spring so you can work in a trip to this special place.

In addition to being a garden it is showcase for garden art. The gardens are peppered with hundreds of sculptures welded from found materials. One of my personal favorites was placed on a rock in the pond.

Many were totem like in appearance. And many are available for purchase.

They are having one more open house this year scheduled for September 10th.  Make it a priority.  So worth it!

Also note: They are working to make this a public garden but need volunteers in helping make that dream a reality Link here for additional information.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy