A few of my favorite things: Parallel Botany
Hello everyone, this is Lisa from Parallel Botany! As a participant in Holly’s “Favorite Things” series, I am thrilled to be here today to share with you a few of my most cherished belongings, as well as some of the things that inspire me daily.
My dog art! Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a deep and abiding affinity for the canine character.. Looking at my collection on the wall is an automatic mood booster for me. I’ve even got a print of the American kitsch classic “Waterloo,” also known as Dogs Playing Poker—a piece which is at once hackneyed and transcendent. By the way, the dark pink screenprint in the upper left corner is my corgi, Barkowitz. He’s a handsome fellow with personality to spare.
This hand-carved wooden box, a gift given to my grandmother by her brother upon his return from World War II, holds faded family snapshots. Some of the photos are so degraded at this point that it’s difficult to make out any likenesses at all. I know I should probably put them in an acid-free archival album, but I enjoy handling the haphazard stacks of photos as I sift randomly through the box. I find this “system” more satisfying than flipping through an album.
Childhood artwork, vintage keepsakes, and souvenirs displayed in shrine-like vignettes, to be arranged and rearranged again and again. This is something I have done since I was a kid, making little tabletop displays of objects on my dressers, desks, and windowsills, and I still find it a very relaxing and serious-fun activity. By the way, is that more dog art in the background? Yep, it’s a huge portrait I painted of my family’s dog when I was twelve (as you can see, the dog art thing runs pretty deep in me!).
My precious mixtapes. A few years ago, I went through a phase of putting together mix CDs with very elaborate packaging—fancy cardstocks, handmade paper that I had made myself, ribbons, collages, watercolors. I really went to town on these things! My taste in music might have shifted a bit since then, but as personal documents these CDs have become more meaningful to me over the years. They really are my journals from that period.
This is my favorite window. I have taken so many photos from this vantage point. I know it’s not the most spectacular vista, but I’m drawn to the oblique, glancing view down the street. When I am experiencing a mental block, I will often go to this window, look out over the rooftops, and let my imagination carry me away.
I also receive daily doses of inspiration from nature. I especially enjoy taking my dog for walks in nearby Inwood Hill Park, which boasts the last bit of natural forest in Manhattan. Back on the forest trails, it’s very easy to forget that I’m in the city, which is sometimes necessary when I start to feel frazzled by the pace of urban life.
After visiting neighborhood parks, I always return home invigorated and brimming over with new ideas. In his book Easy Living, the designer Terence Conran writes, “The least inspiring displays are composed of objects you expect to see, or those that remain in the same dusty corner year after year. By contrast, objects that mean something to you, that enshrine memories of a favorite place or time or person, always have vitality: they actually have something to say…[There] really are no hard and fast rules for display except to surround yourself with things you positively enjoy.”
This wise statement is something I like to keep in mind when I consider ways to honor objects and memories in my home. I try to stand back and let my collections of much-loved items speak for themselves. – Lisa
(images: parallel botany)
A few of my favorite things: Design Evolution
Hello all, this is Michelle from the blog Design Evolution stopping by decor8 for a visit while Holly is making her big move. When Holly first asked me to participate in her August guest series, “A few of my favorite things” I was super excited to be a part of it. I must admit putting this post together turned out to be an interesting exercise as I realized my home is full of many “things” but not too many of them favorites. Taking a little journey through my space with a camera in hand I was able to find those few things that bring me peace or make me smile and a room where I feel truly relaxed and at home.
My house didn’t really start to feel like a home until I brought in some artwork. While I can’t quite afford original art pieces I have begun collecting prints from my some of my favorite artists. It is such an inexpensive way to fill your home with beautiful images. Online marketplaces like etsy, artfire, etc. have introduced me to so many independent artists and I’m so thankful for them. Before I discovered them I could only dream of owning works from independent artists and now I have many.
My grandfather was a meticulous photographer who kept amazing notes about the exposure, f.stop, film type, etc. for every photo he took. He was also great at organizing his photographs into albums and cataloging many family events. I’m so grateful to have these photo albums that track my family’s life in Cuba from even before my father was born. I know I will never be as disciplined as he was but he certainly inspires me to better organize photos of family and friends now because I know future family members will appreciate them.
This little corner of my kitchen is my happy place on early mornings. You can not expect me to complete a coherent sentence until I have had my first cup of coffee. The routine has become cheerier with the addition of two Orla Kiely canister that hold my coffee and sugar and print from one of my favorite etsy shops Yumi Yumi.
Some part of my home is often torn apart or in the middle of a crazy home improvement project that is no doubt over my head. During the chaos my bedroom is always the place where I can escape the mess and relax. There are no jarring colors and while there are certainly things I would like to change about the room I hold back while the rest of the house is torn apart. I close the door, curl under the covers, turn out the light and everything is right with the world.
And my most favorite thing in my entire home, except for my boyfriend of course, is my puppy Milo. He is number one on my list of things that I would grab if there was a fire and I had to run out the door. A puppy can certainly drive you nuts at times (especially those times when they chow down on your favorite pair of shoes) but you quickly forget those times when you walk in the door after a particularly rough day and that adorable little face couldn’t be more excited to see you and only you. It’s also very rewarding to know that I’ve made this poor abandoned puppy’s life better then he could have every imagine it would be. Holly I know you’ve mentioned that you might like to get a dog once you’re settled in Germany and I definitely recommend it. I wonder if he will only understand German commands :)
So there you have it, a few of my favorite things. Leave it to Holly to sneak some healthy introspection into what appears to be a fun and light assignment. Must be what makes Holly such a great teacher. Taking this photo journey around my home has made me realize that I need to work a bit harder to fill my home with only things that I really love and not just things that I think I need.
Good luck on journey and best wishes to you and Thorsten. We will all miss you while you’re settling and can’t wait to follow along on your new adventures. Finally, Holly asked that I end a favorite piece of advice. At this stage of my life these words from the Persian poet Rumi, “Let What You Love Be What You Do” resonate quite strongly. Life is too short to be dragging your feet. Embrace every moment running, jumping, playing and most importantly doing what makes you truly happy. -Michelle
(images: design evolution)
A few of my favorite things: Sarah Hardaker
Hi, I am Sarah Hardaker and I am visiting while Holly does her big move. I am a fabric designer from the UK and also the co author of Hardaker and Pope blog and these are a few of my favourite things at home…
My dining room is one of my favourite rooms in this house. It is flooded with light all day and evening, it has floor to ceiling windows which look out over the garden. It has a vintage chandelier that has moved from 4 different houses and never hung until we moved here, french linen sheets as curtains and a panel of my chinoiserie grand wallpaper on one wall. This room has seen so many lovely meals with friends and family, and I sometimes work in here if I fel in need of sunshine.
I love original paintings, I never seem to have the time to sit and paint myself. This one is by my husbands uncle Robert Lee- Wade RA, It is of the footpath above our house in the snow earlier this year. I like to create little ‘still life’ settings on surfaces, our old house had lots of interesting nooks and shelves and was perfect for these little vignettes. This house is not so good yet, but I am slowly bending it to my will and creating some little spaces. It appears after taking these photos I have something of an addiction to Diptyque candles…. I get one every year from my lovely husband in my christmas stocking – Cannelle is my favourite.
I had thought I would only photograph the house for this post, but our garden is such an integral part of our lives here, all of the rooms have big windows or doors out onto it. We grow lots of our own fruit and vegetables, and if I need a break from designing I will often go and potter around in the green house or the vegetable garden with the children. They both have their own little patch!
From fork to fork! from the garden to my plate. I LOVE to cook. I find cookbooks a huge source of inspiration. I have a shamefully large collection, I like to sit in my chair under the shelf and have a good read, especially on a Saturday morning after a trip to the farmers’ market. Food is definitely a big part of who I am, and how I live.
The Rose Garden. I sit here and think about new designs. Lots of my fabrics and wallpapers are based on natural elements, such as flowers and seed heads. I find great colour inspiration here and it changes throughout the seasons. The smell is amazing too.
Colour. As I have said, lots of my designs are inspired by nature, I love the pure colour you get in flowers. This is a David Austin William Lobb rose, and I drew its shape over and over when I was doing my chinoiserie design.
Things that inspire me… This is a really tough one as I am a very visual person and feel inspired by everything and anything, from awesome architecture to the mundane things around me. I love colour even though I use it sparingly in my home. I love accents and unusual combinations. You can’t beat nature for this, the beauty of a dark pink Gertrude Jekyll rose with lime green alchemilla mollis – perfection. I use the flowers in my garden all the time for design inspiration and also for colour inspiration. I have been incredibly lucky to have traveled extensively both with my family and for work. India and Italy totally blew me away. I always look at colour and pattern when I am traveling. Food plays a huge part in our lives, we grow a lot of it and I think its really important that my kids know where their food comes from and are happy to try new and exciting flavours. I always think that cooking is very like designing, in that you have a palette of flavours rather than a palette of colours, but it works the same in that you have to understand what goes with what or it will be a mess. I have a shamefully huge cookbook collection!
I could talk for Britain so am constantly inspired by people around me, I love having Jo in the studio with me to talk about ideas. I think blogging is a great outlet for anyone creative and is also a great source of inspiration too – its almost like working in a big communal studio. If I am feeling uninspired my top three (not including decor8 because that’s a given) are lobster and swan, sam’s notebook and snippet and ink. All three have the ability to infuse my with creativity. I was incredibly fortunate to work with Nina Campbell and Anthony Little both of whom taught me so much about how to design, they are amazing people. They always remembered the little things about people and would treat the lady in the printworks canteen with the same respect as the CEO – a great rule for life. I love art and if I were a wealthy lady I would buy a lot of it. My favourites (probably because they inspire me) are Kate Loveday an artist based in Stroud in Gloucestershire, my lovely uncle Robert Lee-Wade RA, and Elaine Pamphillon. All of them totally understand colour.
My favourite advice is, “Nothing is ever irretrievable” from Antony Little, and he is right, no matter how bad something is, or how wrong its gone, you can usually pick yourself up and start all over again.
Also from my great friend Versha (CEO Intelligent Exhibitions) “If you want to play with the big boys, you’ve got to look like the big boys… even if you are actually running your company from your dining table, they don’t know that!!”
Thank you for having me here today Holly and everyone else tuning in! – Sarah
(images: sarah hardaker)
A Few Of My Favorite Things: perfectbound, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Hello everyone! It’s Julie & Kathryn of perfectbound here. We are so excited to be a part of Holly’s guest series “A Few of my Favorite Things” while she is busy relocating. If you’re not familiar with us, we are two designers, best friends, and roommates from Winnipeg, Canada. We love making each day a little more special by highlighting ordinary objects that might otherwise be overlooked. Today we’ll be sharing a few of our favourite things along with the spaces we enjoy the most in our apartment. Almost a year ago we moved into a three floor walk up that was built in 1910. Being as we’re both recent graduates we do not have a lot of money to spend on decor, which has inspired us to rediscover what we already have.
One of the fun things about the apartment is the sunroom. It gives us lots of natural light with windows on two sides of the room. It’s a great place to get a bit of fresh air while looking through our favorite magazines.
We are lucky enough to have a fireplace in our living room but are still deciding on how to bring it to life. In the meantime we like to use the mantle to showcase some of our favourite objects. It’s always changing as we find new inspirations.
One of our best vintage finds was our mid-century dining table. Right now it doubles as our work space.
Like most of you, we have a wall of inspiration. Since we just started putting pieces up, we continue to add to it. Who knows, one day it might even cover the entire wall!
As we decide how to refine our spaces, our prints live in a small gallery against the wall. Being full of bright colours, these are our current favourites for the season.
We have become avid collectors and it all started with our tea cups and saucers. We love how they are little works of art on their own or together as a larger installation. They also incorporate two of our favourite things, colour and pattern.
We are inspired by many different mediums. From the album art of bands like Death Cab For Cutie and The Arcade Fire to the stunning visuals of movies such as The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Being designers, we are also influenced by the traditional practices of art and design. The charm of Margaret Kilgallen’s hand painted typography and the disciplined work of Massimo Vignelli are perfect examples of this.
When objects and design alone fall short, we find that wise words help to reignite the creative fires. So as we each try to create the life we want, something we always keep in mind is this quote by Confucius that states if we “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
(images by Julie & Kathryn of perfectbound)
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)