Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making your DORM ROOM Sustainable

Sending kids off to college? Let's think about ways to be sustainable in our design ideas.

Buying new bedding? Think about buying biodegradable sheets and bed liners! Made from linen and other natural fibers, your student will sleep in breathable comfort and be contributing to a healthier environment.

For the windows, keep the treatments simple to MAXIMIZE natural sunlight. Your student can help save electricity and reap the health and learning benefits of natural daylight like elevated mood and increased productivity.

Send your co-ed off with biodegradable laundry products such as Soap Sheets or Soap Nuts. Not only easier on the environment, easier to use: just throw 2 or 3 in with the laundry: no messy measuring needed.

Let's talk electricity:

Stock up on power strips! Dorm rooms are notoriously stingy with outlets and power strips are energy savers.

Utilize compact fluorescent, energy-saving lamps (CFL bulbs). The bulbs are available in warm, natural light hues.

Invest in a small fan. It will help to keep air circulated in your student's room and is more energy efficient than those big old box fans we had. Just remind your co-ed: TURN OFF EVERYTHING WHEN NOT IN USE.

Many dorms come furnished, but if you need extra items such as a chest or chair: browse through thrift stores and vintage shops. Want to spruce up that old item with a coat of paint? Check out No-VOC paints (volatile organic compounds). Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams both carry paints in their eco-lines that won't break your budget.

I found this chest at Goodwill and painted it for my son's room. We used low-VOC black paint, and jazzed it up with new knobs....he loves it
Think COLOR. Remember, the dorm room is going to have white or off-white walls. So going with color on the furniture and bedding is a great idea!

Color trends for 2010

If the furniture is being provided, and has that "well-worn" look....try putting a personal spin on it with a favorite or vintage scarf.

The design on the left leans toward the more traditional. The design on the right is more modern with a bold scarf and modern lamp. Be sure the accessories go together: if you are going modern, stay modern! If you want traditional: stay traditional!

TRAYS! I love trays! I use them in my bathrooms....I don't know about you, but I need my items out in front of me. Trays can cleverly camouflage tabletop  scratched, gouges and stains.

 On the right is vintage tray in my bathroom. On the left is of a basket tray trimmed in leather in the boys' bathroom. This works great in dorm rooms where counter space is at a premium.

Dorm rooms never have enough storage. Utilize the space under the bed. You can raise the bed several inches with bed lifts and slip some roomy storage containers underneath. To stay sustainable, try to look for plastic bins with a NO. 5: these are recyclable.

Hatboxes make great storage spaces, and stacked up, they become charming side tables. Great for stashing books and school supplies.

If you have some more great ideas for dorm living...let me know!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Remember the Maple?

Wow....when the guys began cutting up the fallen maple, I realized I could get more furniture designs out the trees main trunk. So...left behind were all these peices. The far right is of the trunk of the tree to be used in the design of the side table. However, from the looks of this pile, I figure I can get maybe four tables out of this least....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It is so BEAUTIFUL...but look at that chip!

Do you have a beloved piece of pottery or porcelain you can't use or display because of a chip? And throwing it out would break your heart?

Well... you could always take the piece to a professional to refinish it properly. Or, if you have all the pieces, some talent, and loving patience, the following link will show you how to fix chipped and cracked pottery.

GREAT! But for those of us with no time, no patience and (gulp) little talent, here are some fast, easy, and artful ideas.

Because of a chip, this antique vase was on the clearance shelf. I was caught by the vibrant hand-painting and horned handles. The issue: chips around the rim.  One trip to the local lighting store, and I had a new lamp!

Because this vase had a slightly uneven bottom, a hand-carved wooden base was added. The gold cap at the top of the vase fit down over the the chipped lip of the vase.

What you can do? Check out your local lighting stores or go to on-line lighting/electrical supply companies to find lighting components or full lamp kits. If you are not into wiring your own lamp, many of the lighting stores will do it for you.

Once you get the lamp wired and set with a harp (the arch over the bulb), then you need to locate the right lamp shade and finish it off with decorative finial (the peice that attaches the shade to the harp)

This lamp-to-be is an old Japanese vase with a painted relief poppy design.

Due to the large chip on the vase's bottom rim, the design for this lamp will require a base that lips up over and hides the chip. But, because this vase has a rough texture, I will probably choose a more simple base. Be sure you choose the accents to go along with the original design of the pottery's artwork.

Take your pottery out to your garden!

This pitcher was the unwitting referee of a teenaged wrestling match. No longer suitable for indoor display: I took it to the garden. Flowers grew up and over the chip, and the rain-washed colors of the vase allowed it to become a centerpiece in my garden. 

Because this vase is tall, I chose to set it vertically. But a shorter, squatter vase can be placed on its side and flowers can cascade out of it.

Speaking of teenaged tragedies: how about those chipped bowls and plates? 

I am stock piling  a group to create a set of mosaic tile pots.

At this time I have two bowls and a plate. By next spring I should have at least two more plates and another bowl. I can get the the two terra cotta pots covered, and maybe more, for a lovely grouping by 
May 2011!
The following is a link on how to create a mosaic tile flower pot

If you have some other creative ideas for those great chipped, cracked and broken pottery and porcelain pieces...please let me know!

Ciao  Rj

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What to do with that SAD...SAD JEWELRY of yours?

I was going through my jewelry box a couple weeks ago. Wow, do I have pieces from long ago that I used to wear, never wear, and will never wear again.

Okay, I could take them to a thrift shop I sell to...but stuff like this rarely moves. Or, I could (and shall) give a few pieces to Goodwill.

But for some I decided: Why not make something new out of something old? Then the possibilities become keep them, give them, sell them?

The photo is of jewelry I began taking apart. I bought the red, white, and black necklace in Italy five years ago. The square with the ebony dot is an earring -- its mate cracked in my travel bag. And on the bottom right: necklace chain links.

Think about these bits like puzzle pieces waiting to be put together. What was an earring is now a pendant. What were necklace links are now matching earrings and enhancement peices in the necklace.  I'm thinking I might have just created my sister's birthday present.

And, I most likely can design a bracelet, perhaps a choker, and more earrings with the remaining Italian beads!

So, what do YOU need to do? Go through what you have: beads, chains, odd earrings, rings, and baubles. Then, consider what additional hardware you will need: clasps, extenders, etc. Keep it classy: they should be silver, gold, and copper. Then go to your nearest craft store. I prefer Michaels Art and Craft Store....look for sales and jewelry classes!

Here are few I have already created

The beads (with the exception of the copper and silver) came from two existing necklaces. Two plain bead lengths became a three-strand standout with matching earrings. 

I always loved my Frank Lloyd Wright bookmark. I took a gold ribbon from a special Mother's Day gift, attached a clasp....VOILA!...a cute necklace I get asked about all the time!


Other ideas for old jewelry? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Next week will discuss what to do with those chipped finds....


Saturday, August 7, 2010

OMG...Not the MAPLE TREE!!!

The other day we had NASTY summer storm(s) come through...however, we had no damage to house or person,but, to my lovely maple tree out back. I never in my life thought the maple was a weak tree, in danger of falling down. It was such a great shade tree for the outdoor patio. However, according to the arborist, it seems that trees planted by nurseries never really get to root correctly and this tree's root turned back in on itself...UGH! So, goodbye my lovely maple...however, hello to a nice side table!

I are saying ...are you NUTS?.I know most of you out there cannot take the trunk of a maple tree and transform it into a peice of furniture; however, I want you to start thinking of .....THE WHAT IFS?

 view from the root forward....
what a mess we had on our hands!

the first is a photo of  blocks of wood made into side tables...well, they are OKAY...but not good enough. The scketch is mine, it is the idea for the single wood chunk of the maples trunk placed on a metal base. As for the base, I may try to find the base at a salvage yard or have some existing item modified to fit the block of wood? Will see what I find.

I do promise to show future photos of the finished product...


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Design Craze....Sustainability

The buzz in design is sustainability. What is sustainability...sustainability is the idea of ensuring that newly designed products or developed projects meet current needs; however, do not take away the capacity for future generations to design and develop for their needs.

I mean...WHO DOES NOT LOVE THIS IDEA???? But here is my problem....what design products or projects can I take part in that will uphold to these sustainable ideals? It seems there are always trade-offs I am making with "so-called" sustainable or green products. For example: linoleum floors are eco-friendly; however, the adhesive used for them are caustic to the environment....WHAT? Oh, and vinyl flooring, that may not be so great for the environment, but, the adhesive is more environmentally friendly.....HELP!!!!!

And the latest craze....eucalyptus wood..."Oh darling, you must have European Eucalyptus Wood!" Well guess what, 1) Eucalyptus is being grown in places it is not indigenous to due to  rising demand... and, when grown in large forested quantitiesl it puts out a toxic gas. This toxic gas is harmful to those animals NOT indigenous to eucalyptus trees! 2) The oil vapors of eucalyptus trees are HIGHLY flammable and are released in VERY warm tempratures. Thus, eucalyptus trees have been known to self- combust. This creates fast burning forest fires that emit the toxic gasses of the eucalyptus tree.
Let me ask you ~ is this being stewards to the environment for future generations?

To me, the best practice in sustainable design is in the re-use or adaptation of the old into something new.

I would like for this blog to promote design ideas as a "RE-VISION" to old items for new design purposes. Instead of being so quick to throw things out, lets find new and creative ways to use them. Instead of buying something new...lets take time to look in a thrift shop ...who knows what we might find.

I am on a new life trend...changes in this crazy, wonderful life of mine....join me in finding the beauty of design in everything.