Archive for June, 2009

Goofproof Gardening

CalibrachoaWith crossed fingers that the sun will come out and stay out, I plan to hit my local garden center at the end of this week.  I’m notoriously bad about getting plants into the ground early in the season (somehow Massachusetts’ unoffocial gardening start date of May 15 always comes and goes without a second thought), but I’m not feeling so bad about it this year given the rain-induced plant mildew that seems to be appearing.  Anyway, Real Simple’s list of 10 almost-impossible-to-kill “goofproof” plants will definitely come in handy as I put together my shopping list:

  1. Verbena (full sun, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  2. New Guinea impatiens (partial sun, partial shade, keep moist)
  3. Geranium (full sun, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant)
  4. Euphorbia (full to partial fun, partial shade, drought-tolerant)  
  5. Purple fountain grass (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  6. Coleus (partial sun, partial to full shade, heat-tolerant, keep moist)
  7. Calibrachoa (full sun, let dry out before watering)
  8. Sweet-potato vine (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  9. Begonia (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  10. Lantana (full sun, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, let dry out before watering)

Image: Cabaret White Calibrachoa

Image credit: Real Simple.com


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French Bull PicnicOver the weekend I heard a depressing statistic…here in Boston and the surrounding area, we’ve had a grand total of three days of sun in June.  Since we don’t, in fact, live in Seattle, I think enduring the ongoing deluge deserves some sort of medal, or at least this sassy and summery picnic set from French Bull.  The heavy duty insulated backpack is filled with non-breakable service for four, cutting board, salt & pepper shakers, corkscrew, bottle opener and an oversize blanket — ready for the moment that the sun comes out.  Tomorrow?

French Bull Blanket Picnic Set, $150

Image credit: French Bull

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WPA-Swim-for-Health If you’re looking for a no-cost way to update your walls, click over to Vintage Printables and start shopping.  Don’t be scared off by the sometimes clunky site — it’s chock-full of fabulous high-resolution, downloadable, free images that have been hand-selected by “Swivelchair,” a biopharma worker who has a serious love for collecting out-of-copyright scientific illustrations.  Luckily for those of us who would rather hang WPA-era posters on our walls than detailed drawings of the human heart, “Swivelchair” has collected those too.  Botanicals, travel posters, curiosities — you name it, and Vintage Printables has probably got it.

So have fun choosing, then bring your selections to your local copy center and print ’em out poster size, or go cheap like me and use your own color printer and an old frame that needs a new tenant.

{Thanks to Design Mom for sharing this great find!}

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Bemz CouchI’m a big fan of slipcovers.  In theory.

When my husband and I bought our first “real” living room furniture (read: not a hand-me-down futon on an unfinished frame with splinters that I slept on beginning my sophomore year of college) every piece was slipcovered.  Dirty? Throw it in the washer!  Bored with the look? Order another one!  The washability was great, but when we did, in fact, get bored with the look, I dicovered it was going to cost $750 to get a new slipcover for an $800 club chair.  If only I had bought that chair at IKEA and then, if only I had known about Bemz, things would have been different.

Bemz, a Stockholm-based company whose products can be found only online, specializes in custom slipcovers for the most popular sofa and chair models from IKEA including the Ektorp, Klippan, Lillberg and more.  The fabric offering is vast (but not too vast — a plus in my book), and prices are reasonable (a slipcover for a 4-seater Klippan sofa is about $200), but the real clincher for me is that Bemz offers slipcBemz Chairovers in Marimekko prints. 

If only I had known.  Our big ol’ club chair would’ve been from the IKEA PS collection and covered in Marimekko’s Unikko poppies…or maybe navy linen…or orange cotton…

Image credits: Bemz

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Boot RackI had been planning on waiting until next Fall to re-think the “mudspace” at my back entry, but with all this ridiculous rain flooding us in New England, I think I might need to figure out a better system for our family of wellies before October.  This simple, utilitarian, yet handsome boot rack from Winsome Wood should do the trick.  With three shelves for shoes, a slot for umbrellas and removable metal tray for wet footwear, this looks likes a perfect fit for small spaces.

Winsome Wood Shoe Rack, $82.99

Image credit: organize.com

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6a00e553feb2ab8834011570227a16970c-800wiOne of the many surprises this new blogging adventure has offered me is a huge — and hugely supportive — community that I didn’t even know existed.  In just the short time since I started The Mudroom, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people from across the country, even across the world, whose work and opinion I find resonates with me, and mine with them.  Such a moment happened just a few days ago when Amy from Sweet Sweet Life wrote to me to let me know she was giving me the “One Lovely Blog Award,” a blogger-to-blogger honor that I am so very thrilled to receive…thank you, Amy!  So please visit Amy, as well as these lovely bloggers with whom I now share this award!

Bits and Bobs: A mostly culinary blog with the occasional dose of fashion and home decor from the lovely and talented Alisa

Kelly+Olive: Amazing and creative interiors from Chicago-based designers Lauren and Courtney

Chroma Lab: The blog from Boston-based furniture and home accessory design lab sharing tips, techniques and great finds

Boston Handmade: News about all things handmade from Boston-area artists

Cottage Industrialist: Great, funny blog from a total renaissance woman…she writes, she cooks, she makes…and she’s fun to read

ABCD Design: Digital sketchbook from designer, stylist and artist ABC Dragoo

Pop Discourse: Wise words and hilarious commentary on daily life from writer, designer and recovering academic Christine Koh (my blogger heroine)


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Toss One On

KalaPillow18inS9One day recently, I was at a friend’s house consulting on a living room reinvention (maximum change for minimal cash) and I spent some time extolling the virtues of throw pillows and their ability to pull together a room through pattern, update a couch or chair, or just generally add visual interest to a space that’s spare on accessories.  So on that note, let me share some of my faves from this season:256235_29582_41

Look to CB2 for some great cheap and chic options, including the Kala Pillow, featuring a collage of bright fabrics in graphic bars.

For a summery addition to your living room, look to L.L. Bean’s new Maine Isle Throw Pillow collection including the starfish motif in navy cotton.

As the Fourth of July approaches and I reflect in my renewed sense of pride in our country, I’m loving the American Pillow Cover Collection from Restoration Hardware, particularly that little boudoir Flag pillow cover.

prod1605035Because there are so many unique, affordable options for pillows from major retailers, as well as local artisans through sites like Etsy, I wouldn’t normally advocate for a spending a ton of hard-earned cash.  But after catching a glimpse of John Robshaw’s new collection which includes a series of stunning handpainted pillows, I’m advocating.  If you can spare it, I support it…and feel free to pick up the Painted Stork for me while you’re at it.


Image credits (from top to bottom): CB2;  L.L.Bean; Restoration Hardware; John Robshaw

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A Lamp of One’s Own

LampThe very first time I saw the “U-Fill-It Lamp” from Circa Lighting, I fell in love. Dining room? Fill it with elegant glass marbles. Craft room? Colorful skeins of yarn. Office? Gumballs, definitely. I had an idea for every room in my house, but at this point in my life I can’t justify a $315 lamp that I don’t really need, no matter how gorgeous.  Luckily, as I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, This Young House, I came across this perfectly terrific look-a-like, available at Amazon.com for $99.  Until the whopping daycare payments are out of our monthly budget permanently, these will do the trick!   

Image credit: Circa Lighting

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DSC00691Ever since I started this blog (a whole month ago) I have found myself even more inspired and determined to do things to my house than I was prior to my first post.  So it only seems natural that one recent day when I was home with my kids, I became possessed with the idea of redoing our plain vanilla back door breezeway into something a little more welcoming.  And here’s the thing: I decided I had to do it that day (my husband can tell you I have issues with instant gratification and sometimes it manifests itself in really odd ways).

So it was set.  I packed the kids in the car, made two quick stops (my local paint store and Lowe’s, where I had to run an errand anyway), and the minute the boys were ready for their nap, I was masking off the door lights.  Two hours and $40 gave me the makeover hit I needed…here’s how I did it:DSC00795

1) Added color: I painted the doors (one to the house, one to the garage) Benjamin Moore’s Concord Ivory, a sunny yellow that I have used in my house already, so I didn’t need to mess around with testing colors.

2) Introduced artwork: I hung a fun, inexpensive piece of art that I had recently moved out my living room.  It’s a piece from Target that’s printed on vinyl, so no worries about the weather!

3) Gave us an ID: Until the redo, we hadn’t had house numbers on our back entrance.  It was time to admit most people enter through our back door.

4) Put up a mailbox: We finally gave the USPS a proper place to leave all my magazines — no more mail all over the floor. This is the one thing that I had to do after the boys woke up, since the second coat of paint hadn’t dried by the time they awoke.DSC00802

At some point I would love to add a new light fixture and a small bench (which is why the artwork is hung high), but until then, this redo is exactly what I needed.

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Animal IndexLast night, after a couple of weeks of successful — ahem — coaching, my husband and I felt secure enough to move the changing table out of our youngest son’s room.  Now presented with a completely blank wall of opportunity, I’m thinking shelves filled with his ever-growing book collection, broken up with pig heads and bums…how cute are these? 

Animal Index by Hiroshi Sasagawa, $23,  pig, reindeer and giraffe heads and hindquarters

Image credit: greenergrassdesign

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