pipe shelf

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after a bit of prodding, begging, pleading and a little googling, the boy built this pipe shelf for my home office, and i have to say, it’s AWESOME! it took me quite a while to style it, but it is finally coming together. i love decorating the little spaces in our home almost as much as the large spaces, but sometimes find it difficult to find the right composition. more often than not, i step back and think, too cluttered or too minimalist. it takes plenty of trial and error to find the right balance. this post is dedicated to the little snippet of progress i have made styling the shelf thus far…although it is bound to change.

i learned how to style on set for a catalog i was designing. while art directing the shoot, i found myself following victor, the stylist, everywhere he went. he sensed my enthusiasm and took me under his wing. however, i quickly learned that styling a studio set is so much different than styling a vignette at home. on set, you want to add punch without too many knick-knacks. those tiny details just do not register when dropped into a layout. although at home, the tiny details are what make your home unique. your guest can walk right up to that shelf and touch (okay, at my home, we have a no touchy rule, but whatevs) each item.

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the top shelf is probably the shelf that i change out the most. i don’t think i need to display my laptop, but something large needs to take its place. a vessel maybe filled with hydrangeas? but i already have 2 vessels here. oh i don’t know, decisions, decisions. btw, this is what keeps me awake at night folks. i love the pouva start bakelite vintage camera. the indian head soda bottle was thrifted and the brass vase is nate berkus for target.

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i own a ton of design books. many that i use on a daily basis. the brass ram bookends and vintage apothecary jar are finds from etsy. the candle is my favorite scent from anthropologie and the tiny drawers were purchased at a flea market. because i’m constantly mocking up design layouts, the drawers are great for child proofing my scissors, x-acto knives and blades.

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i have to hardest time throwing away magazines, especially my communication arts periodicals. i like that they are so simple and minimal with the white spine and small pops of color; i chose to display them topped with a large vintage globe i sourced at BAM Chicago. the small bowl is again from target and the artwork is by beth hoeckel. if you have never heard of her, you should…go check her out now.

the spacing between this shelf and the shelf above it is a bit too large. i’m trying to find the perfect lamp (task lamp or in my dreams pierre cardin brass lamp) to replace that globe, and as i’m typing this a light bulb just appeared over my head. once i find said lamp, the globe will replace the laptop on the top shelf…HA! i’ve been told by the boy that decreasing that space between the shelves  is not an option, so maybe that pierre cardin brass lamp is not just a pipe (shelf) dream.

now, before you started to read this post, you were probably eyeing this pretty little gem, asking yourself how you can build one in your own home. well, ask and you shall receive. i found a few good tutorials, but apartment therapy and the brick house seemed to have the clearest of instructions. i wanted a thicker wood which was unavailable at my local home depot (we purchased the pipe there, and they cut it down for us in under an hour), so i contacted a nearby lumberyard (isn’t that grain amazing?). they cut the wood, and the boy painstalkingly drilled each hole (not realizing just how hard of a wood oak is; each hole took over 30 mins to complete…poor little cordless drill). he stained it using minwax in walnut, and voila! a beautiful pipe shelf was created!

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new prints in the house

max wanger and his beautiful wife margaux are these insanely talented photographers out of los angeles. i’m unsure how i stumbled upon their work a few years back, but when i fell, i fell hard people. their work is breathtaking, stunning, whimsical, hip…you can see their love of negative space and design in each composition.

i’ve been emailing them (bugging them, yes, super annoying i’m sure) begging them to come to chicago. offering to fly them out for family photos. ever since dean thorsen up and left the chicago area, i’ve been searching for my new photographer go to without much success. but as luck would have it, when i finally found max, he up and decided to start a family of his own…so chicago was a no go. i must fly my family out to LA if i want to hire mr wanger. we are looking to make that happen next summer, but that is for yet another blog post.

anyhoo, i decided if i couldn’t have max photograph my family, i still wanted his work on my walls. he has a fantastic print shop where you can purchase some of his choice art work. let me tell you, it was a very difficult decision to make. every print is so beautiful and if i wasn’t running out of wall space, i’d buy one of each! i first chose the pink balloon in an oversized 30 X 45 print. a splurge yes, but for original artwork of this size, completely affordable.

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originally it was to be hung above the fireplace, but i changed my mind last minute and decided to hang it in the front room (but after purchasing the lani lee work, it was moved again to the guest bedroom). i tend to change my mind a lot. i love how even with all the negative space the print commands the room without being overly loud. fast forward 3 months, i still needed something for the fireplace. i returned to max’s print shop and chose his tulum print also in an oversized 30 X 45 print.

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i really struggle with this room in particular. we have a way oversized sectional and coffee table. everything seems to be a beige beige world here, but after hanging the tulum print, this room breathed life! it is simple but the teals and blues are popping. i wound up framing it in a thin 1-inch black frame, but after seeing how emily henderson framed it in white for bri from designlovefest, i’m second guessing my choice. and for all of you that know my love (insert obsession) for emily, i’ll have you know i was tickled pink to know that i picked artwork that she chose before she even chose it! i guess it made me feel like i did something right.

now i just need to finish this room. it’s slowly coming together, but i get so confused when it comes to pillows and window treatments. not even emily henderson’s video on mixing and matching patterns has helped me. she makes it look so easy! i watch it and think ya, i totally got this, let’s go! i buy a bunch of pillows, get them on my sofa and soon thereafter, i return them…defeated. i have even resorted to purchasing sourced pillows from her portfolio but they never seem to work. one of these days it will happen folks…i promise!

so what are you waiting for? go to max’s print shop and pick out some for your fireplace and why stop there? you can follow his work on twitter/instagram at @maxwanger

time traveling

every once in a while i have a day where i enjoy retracing my steps…time traveling a bit. lately, i’ve been thinking back to our honeymoon. since my husband’s family was unable to fly to the states for the wedding, we chose to travel to them for the honeymoon. the majority of our time was spent in a quiet farm town in germany with oma and opa, but we  fit in a couple roadtrips to visit aunts, uncles and cousins in trier and koln. we even managed to get away on our own to visit the czech republic. ah prague, it stole my heart…a fascinating city although i do suggest taking public transportation. however, the 20 year old german map from oma’s house might have been the reason for my deciphering difficulties; mainly because i don’t speak a lick of german or czech.

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finally, after what seemed to be forever (and accidentally driving through a tram station where an old man shook his umbrella angrily at us), we arrived at our hotel, located just yards away from the foot of the stunning charles bridge. each afternoon, painters and street performers fight for space with throngs of tourists. our last morning, we woke up before the dawn to catch these shots.

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after our boat trip along the river we booked reservations at kampa park. we chose a a candlelit table on the cobblestoned terrace, draped in fairy lights right beside the river. the lights of charles bridge glittering on the water. being a foodie, i have dined at quite a few upscale restaurants. i’m unsure if it was the amazing wine or the insane view, but this has gone down as the best meal of my life thus far. after dark it became a bit chilly, so i cozied up with the cashmere blanket on the back of my chair and topped the evening off with a delicious cappuccino.

boat trip along the vltavalennon wall in prague

after dinner, the blue light jazz club and an old english pub (the name i don’t recall) became our haunts of choice. after many a staropramen, we’d slowly make our way back to our bed and breakfast, only to start another adventure the following day.

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little did i realize this would be one of the last chances the boy and i would have to slip away together before children. and although this european getaway was not the typical balmy exotic island, lined with palm trees and coconuts honeymoon, i wouldn’t trade it for the world. it was an amazing adventure that i will revisit in my mind again and again. til we meet again prague.

curtain crush

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i’ve been searching for 3 years for window treatments for the tv room and i think i might have finally found the perfect curtains. the front room’s linen striped panels came from serena & lily. i love them but thought they might be too light weight for the back room and i also wasn’t so sure i wanted everything in the house to be so matchy-mtachy. i found these ombre pinch pleat curtain panels on etsy — such a great treasure trove for unique items for the home — by lovely home idea out of lithuania. they are handmade, linen and come in a few different colors. the fabric is hand dyed so each panel may be slightly different.

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if i like the grey as much as i think i’m going to, i might have to purchase the gold for the upstairs guest bedroom. but what about the blue folks…the blue is mighty pretty too! ugh, decisions, decisions.

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fabulous photo booth fun

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i don’t know about you, but when i see a vintage dip and dunk chemical photo booth i get giddy with excitement. i’ve always adored them, but growing up in a rural community, they were not plentiful. i vividly remember finding one on a class trip to six flags great america and blowing every penny i had. dragging classmate after classmate into that little booth, sitting on the wobbly stool, pulling the red curtain closed and making silly faces or sticking out our tongues…then waiting 5 mins for that whirring noise and receiving a strip of 4 black and white photos. memories and friendships being held in my hand.

for me, analog instant photography has been a great outlet for creative experimentation. all my life, i’ve been obsessed with cameras, film and photography, but i’m one of those people that needs instant gratification. my polaroid cameras helped fulfill that instant need but after renting a vintage chemical booth for my wedding, i knew i had to have one of my own. don’t get me wrong, i’m not above jumping in a digital smilebooth and hamming it up with the best of them, but there is something special and unique about a vintage film photo booth.

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after completing an extensive google search, i quickly found that vintage chemical photo booths were kinda hard to come by…especially booths in working condition. the search was quickly narrowed down to one company, mainly because they own the market…google pointed me to a&a studios located in chicago. i guess they were surprised when i said i wanted to buy one just for me…apparently no one does that. they also warned me that these machines were a bit tricky and needed some tender loving care (insert they are really, really fussy) to keep them in working order, but we all agreed, nothing compared to the strip of 4 images on film, so i drove to their studio on ogden ave. and found my machine in their basement storage room…an old model 20 that looked so decrepit and janky, but beautiful at the same time. and so began the build.

i didn’t realize that these machines were so heavy! they can weight over 800 lbs. since it was going to live in the basement, our main objective was devising a plan on how to get it in the house and not have the stairs collapse. anthony, a former architect and now a&a’s owner, decided it should be 4 separate pieces…the floor, the ceiling, the sitting area, and the machine itself.

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the night before delivery day was unbearable. i was excited, i was nervous…i couldn’t believe this booth was going to be mine all mine. it took a few hours and three guys to haul it into the house, get it down the stairs, leveled out and set up. anthony and another awesome guy who works for him — rob — ran me though the chemicals, camera, film, heater and other gizmos…i felt a little overwhelmed, but jumped in head first. ever since we have been making family memories day after day after day. i’ve been able to photograph the dude and little maus monthly and i think it is going to make for an amazing family photo album.

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