A few of my favorite things: Serena Thompson, The Farm Chicks.
Hi! I’m Serena Thompson, co-founder of The Farm Chicks, a brand I created with my best friend and business partner, Teri Edwards. (Our blog is under the same name.) We came up with The Farm Chicks name after being invited into numerous farms and barns to collect old items. When we decided to start an antiques show and sell those items we’d been collecting, we knew we needed a name, and that’s how The Farm Chicks name was “hatched”. Years later, we still produce our annual antiques show, are cookbook authors, and work as contributing editors for Country Living Magazine. My husband, children, and I live on Peone Prairie, just outside of Spokane, Washington. We’re surrounded by thousands of acres of wheat fields, and an agricultural area known as Greenbluff. It’s a very beautiful and peaceful place to live. Much of our family time is spent in our kitchen, which is a nice, open space so I’ll share with you a few of my favorite things from this space.
When I designed the kitchen, I wanted it to feel timeless. The cupboards go straight to the floor with no stepback at my feet. Light pours in through the windows, making it a very bright and cheery place to be. The base cupboards are made of cherry wood and the countertops are maple.
The island is in the center of the kitchen. The bank of drawers to the right of the stove hold all of my baking supplies. I call it my baking center. You can read more about my baking center here and here if you’d like.
My current obsession is blue and red European enamelware.
I love making my home as pretty as possible. Kitchen cloths stacked on a cakestand are pretty and practical.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a fun and easy DIY kitchen project — a magnetic knife rack. You can find complete instructions here. Enjoy!
Thank you for visiting my kitchen! — Happy Trails, Serena.
(images: serena thompson)
I heard from Yasmine Surovec this afternoon, the talented editor, designer and illustrator of the new Parasol Craft Magazine and author of A Print A Day (the decor8 blog of the week). Parasol Craft is an inspiring new magazine that you can download and is dedicated to showcasing handmade products and features freebies, too! The primary focus is to promote and inspire creativity… here’s but a peek…
Have you heard of either of these two creative spots online? I hadn’t until today, so I’ve been busily perusing Yasmine’s lovely pages for the past half hour. Gorgeous, I highly recommend picking up the current copy of Parasol Craft — it’s lovely!
Thanks for writing in, Yasmine!
(images: parasol craft magazine)
A few of my favorite things: Happy Mundane
Hello! I’m Jon from Happy Mundane. Holly kindly invited me to share a few of my favorite things from my home, so I walked around my place and here are a few things that always make me smile…
Every morning when I wake up, one of the first things I see is this view of my bathroom. Originally I had painted the back wall a very light pale blue, and the decor was pretty fun and casual. But last year, after installing some new tile flooring, I decided to switch it to a dramatically darker shade. This changed the entire feel and consequently motivated me to “glam” things up a bit, (I guess it makes me feel a little bit more like a grown up, hehe- I think that’s a good thing?) However, I didn’t ditch all the fun. This little cup, which I found in a thrift shop, acts as my toothbrush holder. I have no idea what the writing says (I hope it’s nothing bad), but I just love the little drawing (I think it kind of looks like me when I have glasses on!) and the fact that it says “Los Angeles.”
I have a lot of artwork in my place, but most of it is from thrift shops, estate sales, or gifts from friends. Just a few months ago, I made my very first artwork purchase from a gallery. I saw this piece from So Cal artist Andrew Holder at the Subtext gallery in San Diego and just had to have it. Kind of an impulse buy, but I love it. Currently it sits at the top of my staircase and greets me with it’s bright bold colors every time I walk in.
I’m a big fan of adding in a touch of the unexpected when it comes to decor. This pillow by Dermond Peterson sits on my living room couch and is a great example of that. I love the raw linen with the subtle white silkscreen. At first glance it just looks like a nice flourish-y pattern- but when you actually look at it, you realize it’s a big kooky octopus! All of Dermond Peterson’s graphics are hand block printed, so each one is a little unique.
Speaking of my living room… it actually blends right into my dining room area. I’m not a big flower guy, but I do think adding some sort of living plant always warms up a space. This summer I got some silver dollar eucalyptus for the dining table, that sits next to my next favorite piece- these incredible “tumi-ishi” wood pieces. I’ve been drooling over these ever since I saw a post of them a few years back. They’re from Japan and actually are a children’s game. Fast forward a little bit and the cool folks at Umbra picked it up for larger distribution, and a few months ago I saw they were finally available stateside, now called “Pile-on”. (you can get them here.) I confess I’m a big fan of the whole faceted trend, as well as natural wood, so this is the perfect marriage of the two.
Summer is all about spending some quality time outdoors. I’m extremely fortunate that I have a small patio, and one of the first things I got when I moved in was a fountain. There’s nothing like the sound of dripping water to get you relaxed and cooled off. And since we’re on the subject of water, another thing I’ve been obsessed with this summer has been simple clear bottles. A few months ago I got to visit the newly opened Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it- and you HAVE to have a meal at their restaurant, Kings Highway. It was there that got me started on this whole clear bottle thing. They serve their ice tea and water in plain wine bottles and I thought it was such a clever idea. Now all my drinks are served like that. You may also notice my cheap attempt to recreate those gorgeous Edda carafes that have been making the blog rounds. I love the idea of using a simple wood ball as a cover, so I purchased a blank wooden doll head/knob at the craft store and made my own version with a carafe I already had.
My most favorite thing this summer has to be the arrival of my wonderful Egg chair! This was a major splurge, and those of you that follow my blog will know how much I had been longing for it. It’s made this summer sooo much better (and Pepé loves it too!)
Holly asked me to talk about where I find inspiration… Whenever I’m in a creative slump, I usually just jump in my car and get out somewhere. Normally I seem to end up at, well… the mall. Don’t laugh. It’s true. But there’s a good reason for this. Around here where I live in suburbia, it’s where I can find a huge amount of everything, from all over the place, all in one convenient location. There’s the book store, there’s home decor stores, fashion boutiques, sometimes grocery stores, and then just fun people watching. One thing that I’m always on the lookout for is juxtapositions. It could be one color next to another, or contrasting textures, etc…. By the time I’ve walked around for a bit, I’ve generally seen something that sparks some ideas.
Do any of you do the same?
Finally, I leave you with a quote that has been helpful for me when I’m working. It’s from filmmaker, Jim Jarmusch:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
Thanks to Holly for inviting me to be a part of this series, and thank you for indulging with me a few of my favorite things. Hope you all are enjoying your summer! – Jon
(images: happy mundane)
My name is Tamara Komuniecki, and I’m very happy to be guesting over here in Holly’s neck of the blogosphere. It’s actually going to be an honor to read my words on decor8, as I’ve been a fan and reader for so long. I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment, so I’m de-lurking in a big way! I am a Canadian broadcast and print journalist, married to a wonderful guy named Konrad and we have a great, crazy dog named Duane. I share my time between Canada (Vancouver, BC), where I blog at ModernGear (soon to be renamed and rebranded TamaraMedia to reflect my history and love of storytelling) and the USA (Long Beach, CA), where I am the Editor-in-Chief of Long Beach Magazine.
It was in Long Beach, CA that I first came across the couple (and their wares) that I want to share with you today, Union Eighteen. Meg and Todd van der Kruik have since moved from Long Beach to near Atlanta, GA, but they are still working together in their spare time producing gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, handmade rugs, that go by the name RAW. These rugs pass both my environmental and my aesthetic considerations, and I am coveting one or two (or more) for our new house (construction zone). I caught up with Meg recently, and I’d like to share our discussion with you.
Tamara: Who came up with the idea to rework discarded remnants of carpet into a new piece?
Union Eighteen: Todd had the idea of assembling the remnants into rugs. When this idea came to fruition we were living on opposite sides of the country. He was working in California for Bentley Prince Street and I was living in Tennessee with our daughter preparing for the cross-country relocation. We would mail weekly packages to each other of design magazines and articles that we had tagged for one another with our thoughts and ideas. At one point he sent me images of the carpet remnants in the dumpsters asking what we could do with them. I think it took us a few days at that point, going back and forth with creative ideas for him to finally say, “Why don’t we use the remnants for what they were intended? Beautiful floor coverings.”
Tamara: Was carpet a conscious choice of medium given its enormous environmental impact, or was it more an opportunity when your medium presented itself?
Union Eighteen: Both. With Todd working in the carpet industry we have first hand knowledge of what it takes to make carpet and what is lost when it is discarded. I think the “Aha” moment came when working at the mill in CA. He had to walk past the downcycling and refuse bins on a daily basis there and I think that really impacted him. Each handmade, one-of-a-kind rug at its root is simply a method by which to save water, energy and offer an attempt to change the way we define “waste”. The history of this material is a long one. Much of it is made from oil that must be drilled, piped and transported to spinning mills before it can be spun, dyed (at a rate of 2+ gallons of water per pound) and tufted into finished material that is then backed with latex rubber. The design process of RAW is one method by which to sustain the longevity of this virgin material and the energy contained within. If not re-purposed in this way these scraps of carpet would at best be down-cycled into carpet padding and at worst sent to a landfill where they would lay in waste for upwards of 50,000 years.
Tamara: I know when you were living in Long Beach, Todd was working at a carpet manufacturer and thus was able to find leftovers with which you could work your magic – what are you using now?
Union Eighteen: We are currently establishing new connections with multiple mills here in GA. We feel very fortunate to be in a place where there are so many different mills to pull from. This will be great for our clients as we will have more access to different colors and textures for our inventory.
Tamara: What are the prices of your rugs? Where can people buy them?
Union Eighteen: Our rugs retail anywhere from $25-$40 per sq ft. We have 5 stores in the US: David Galindo Home, Twentieth, The Road Less Traveled, The Future Perfect and @ Work Design. In Canada we are working with Melissa Davis on her new online store. This amazing new site will be launching very soon!
Tamara: Does working and living together have a positive impact on your product, or do you find that you need to take a break from it more often?
Union Eighteen: Definitely positive! When we first met it was as two complete strangers with like-minded goals. We were both interested in starting a business focused on creating sustainable art and interior products through the use and reuse of discarded and renewable source material. Our personal relationship grew with our business. We have very different strengths and opportunities which makes us a really great creative team. I think that we also really respect each other’s talents and opinions…I feel very fortunate to have a business and life partner that is as encouraging and as supportive as Todd.
I have a long list of items on my “will have eventually” list – like two Eames bent plywood chairs, an antique metal map/blueprint filing cabinet, and for the last year, a Union Eighteen rug. I’ll be pleased that such a purchase will prevent even a little bit of carpet from sitting in a landfill for generations to come, and happy to support such a lovely couple in their creative endeavors. Thanks for having me today, Holly! – Tamara Komuniecki
(images: union eighteen)