Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Double Take: Urban Outfitters and Evo Noche Pillowcases

Call me crazy, but did Urban Outfitters just totally snake these new illustrated-pillowcase designs from Bay Area indie designers Evo Noche? (If so, it wouldn't be the first time in recent memory.)

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Evo Noche: Satellite, Adjust, and Cage cases ($16 each)

Urban Outfitters: Fancy Chandelier, Guitar and Amp, and Dreaming of Paris cases ($24 per pair)

Stark, black-on-white color scheme: Check.

Sweetly punk, vaguely industrial vibe: Check.

Pen-and-ink-style illustrations of objects not normally seen on bedding: Check.

I leave the verdict to you.

Etsy Find of the Day: "Nightmare Before November" Wreath

This faintly goth-y wreath just seemed fitting for this gray and blustery day on the eve of Halloween.

The seller describes it thusly: "Over a frame of cedar boughs, I wrapped thorny wild blackberry vines and thorny gorse, and decorated it with prickly bull thistle heads. All of it DEAD!"

But it's also just a nice, late-Autumn adornment for your door -- simple, seasonal, not too "foo-fooey." Encircling a pile of baby pumpkins and craggy gourds, it'd make an interesting centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, too. (Just be careful not to touch it, since the seller cautions that it's "seriously thorny.")

Consider yourself warned.

$18 right here.

House Voyeur: A Reimagined Ranch in the Oakland Hills

Lounge chair by Franco Albini

At the end of the Oakland Heritage Alliance’s recent walking tour of an enclave of Joseph Eichler-built homes, our group filed into Peter Rafanan’s home for the end-of-tour reception.

After hoofing it through the neighborhood’s hilly streets and visiting a few interesting but sadly frozen-in-time Eichler interiors, I think we were all looking forward more than anything else to a cold drink and a chance to sit down. But as the crowd began to take in Rafanan’s home, an audible, collective gasp arose.

Exterior paint: A custom mix of Down Pipe and Off-Black, both from Farrow & Ball; PLC exterior light; Neutra house numbers from Design Within Reach

Rafanan, an Oakland native who works as an audiovisual system designer, has utterly transformed his circa-1963 Eichler, making it totally modern while also staying true to its midcentury roots by stripping away a series of “remuddlings” done by previous owners.

The results are breathtaking -- literally. Rafanan’s home is crisp, clean, and expansively open, with soaring ceilings, luxurious finishes, minimal but exquisite furnishings and art, and sweeping views of San Francisco and the Bay.

Here, Rafanan takes us on a virtual tour of his three-bedroom, 2,100 square-foot home and details its lengthy renovation:

Blue chair by Pierre Paulin for Artifort; Edward Wormley side table; large painting by Jennifer Kaufman

“My Claude Oakland-designed Eichler house has California Ranch-style midcentury modern architecture that was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler, and Richard Neutra.

In the early 1970s, a fire gutted much of the home. During reconstruction, the house was reconfigured with the addition of a fourth bedroom, an art studio in the former garage, and an extra half bath. The original, open-air atrium in the center of the house was roofed over and covered with skylights -- creating an enclosed space that really had no purpose, as far as I can tell.

When I bought the house two years ago, nothing -- other than a number of tweaks to accommodate a disabled person -- had been done to it for nearly 30 years. So pretty much everything was showing its age.

Leather and chrome chairs by Milo Baughman; marble coffee table by Nicos Zographos for Knoll; painting by Debra Greene, LIMN Gallery; concrete floors by Brian Vicari at the Concrete Colorist

I’ve always admired modern architecture. My fascination with Eichlers in particular began during the many years I spent living on the San Francisco Peninsula. The more I learned about Joe Eichler and his inspiration, aspirations, and ideals, the more I felt compelled to preserve his legacy by reverting back to Claude Oakland’s original floorplan for this house during my recent renovation.

I’m also a minimalist who values quality and simplicity. My interest in modernism is a deep-seeded philosophy that I try to apply to many facets of my life. My work revolves around using cutting-edge technology to reshape and improve people’s working environments, and my success is measured by how much I can simplify and personalize complex tasks. Those ideals permeate my taste in everything from architecture and art to music.

Globe lights from Progress Lighting

So besides restoring the floorplan, gutting the kitchen and baths, skim-coating all of the interior walls, and microtopping and polishing the concrete floors, I embarked on an extensive seismic retrofit and restored the original radiant-heating system, which had been abandoned for forced air during the Seventies remodel. I also had the electrical panel upgraded; installed security, audiovisual, and control systems; and added low-voltage cabling for phones, data, and video lines. All the lighting in the house can now be remotely dimmed and controlled. There’s an entry phone at the front door tied in to the phone system, allowing me to screen visitors and open the door using any phone in the house.

It was a challenge to maintain my focus on a project that took 15 months to complete. I also went over budget -- it was originally $250,000 and I ended up at $300,000. I really wanted a Bulthaup kitchen and Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures. But there were so many other necessities -- like the seismic upgrades (this is earthquake country), which included a new roof and plywood sheathing, all the new glass, the mechanical and electrical upgrades, and residing most of the house. Those upgrades had to be my priority.

Stainless steel tiles from Mosaic Glass Tile; Broan hood; M-Clock by Rob Juda; Jasper Morrison/Rowenta coffeemaker; Caesarstone counter; Grundtal stainless steel shelves, Akurum cabinets with Abstrackt doors, and convection oven, all from IKEA; Verona gas and electric cooktops;
Fisher & Paykel refrigerator; Fridgidaire dishwasher;
Pappelina rug

In the end, I was left with $50,000 to do the kitchen and both bathrooms, so I needed to dial back my expectations. The IKEA stuff I used really works well for now, and I’m happy with the way things turned out.

Vattern cabinet with Hollviken sink and Ensen faucet, all from IKEA; George Kovacs light fixture

Hands down, my favorite thing about my home is the view overlooking the San Francisco Bay. My location in the Oakland hills is ideally suited to showcase a distinctive feature of most Eichlers: a wall of glass forming the rear elevation of the house.

Watching the sunset over the City every evening has done wonders for my blood pressure. The fact that I can do this in almost every room of the house is astounding.

Now that most of the remodeling work is done, I’m enjoying finding furniture for the house. eBay and Form Vintage Modern in Oakland are my main sources.

Wire sculptures by Pamela Merory Dernham; paintings by Debra Greene, LIMN Gallery

My best buys have to be all the midcentury furnishings, which only seem to be gaining in value. I have a C. Jere metal butterfly wall sculpture hanging in the master bathroom, for instance, that I got before his recent resurgence in popularity, and I’m sure it’s worth four or five times what I bought it for. The way I see it, any pieces by respected designers (Charles and Ray Eames, Hans Wegner, Milo Baughman, to name just a few) and top-notch manufacturers (such as Knoll, Dunbar, and Fritz Hansen) will always appreciate.”

Click here to see more (lots more) of Peter Rafanan’s home -- including his before, during, and after renovation galleries, his time-lapse shots, and his interior and exterior collections.

Thanks so much for sharing your home with us, Peter!

P.S. This post seems to be wending its way around the blogosphere. A sampling of reactions:

* From Curbed SF: Interior Porn: Pimp My Eichler

* From the Kitchen Designer: A Minimalist Kitchen

* From CasaSugar: Link Time! Craving Pamela Merory Dernham's Wire Sculptures

* From Fashion is Spinach: Around the Blogosphere #4

(P.P.S. Want to see more? Click here for a peek inside other readers' homes.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

That's Random: Goodbye, Harry

So last night around 10 o'clock, we finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

(I realize that any of you who care probably did the same thing on, oh, July 22 or so. But you try reading a dense, 759-page book aloud to two squirmy, easily distractable kids -- one of whom insists on practicing his human beatbox skills and dance moves from his chair while you attempt to read, and another who launches into uncontrollable fits of giggling upon hearing British slang like "snog" and "mental" -- and we'll see just how long it takes you.)

Both of my kids were simultaneously horrified, embarrassed, and a little freaked out when I burst into tears and couldn't continue reading during a key climactic sequence (don't worry, I won't spoil anything for the two of you out there who may still be slogging through it), and again at the conclusion of the tale we've followed for the better part of the last decade.

Today, I still feel verklempt -- sort of weepy and spent and a bit mournful. And how could I not? Aside from the inherent drama of the story itself, these are characters my children have literally grown up with.

I think we started reading the first book together (glossing over the scariest parts) when Austin was in kindergarten. His preschool-aged sister, though by no means old enough to be exposed to such a sophisticated and emotionally fraught book, nevertheless refused to be denied, clambering up on the bed with us to hear about the strange and magical world that Harry and his young friends inhabited.

Since then, I've read every page of all seven books aloud to them, spending untold hours snuggled under the covers or piled up together on the couch as they listened (sometimes raptly and sometimes not) while the epic narrative unfolded. I'm pretty sure that just hearing the words "Harry Potter" or seeing the books or an image from one of the movies will forever trigger a picture to form in my mind of my children in pajamas and pigtails.

So yeah, I cried as both the series and our experience of it drew to a close last night. It was strange and sad to say farewell to the fictional boy who has been such a constant presence in our lives these last eight years, and to think about his journey from a lost and unloved child to an honorable and heroic young man -- all the while gazing at my own little boy and pondering his transformation from a tiny, smooth-cheeked thing who snuggled up to me while I read to the handsome, strapping adolescent who was now sitting across from me. (Granted, the one who was now sitting across from me making obnoxious beatbox noises with his mouth -- but still.)

So goodbye, Harry Potter, and thank you.

I think I have to go and cry again now.

Cool Stuff: Glassybabies

Aren't these glossy "Glassybabies" simply lovely?

Available in 53 almost edible hues, each Glassybaby is handblown using an intricate, three-layered process. The resulting vessel can be used as a cup, goblet, bud vase, or votive holder -- or simply displayed alone or in a group to add a bit of color and shine to a mantle, window ledge, or tabletop.

Each Glassybaby costs $40 (though there are progressive discounts if you buy 12 or more). You can also purchase seasonal bouquets consisting of four sets of three spring-, summer-, fall-, and winter-hued Glassybabies for $456, as well as "Glassybaby a Month" programs lasting 3, 6, and 12 months apiece ($120, $240, and $456 respectively) -- a great gift idea for someone really special.

What's more, Glassybaby (founded four years ago by lung cancer survivor Lee Rhodes) earmarks proceeds from the sale of several colors to benefit organizations contributing to cancer patient care and cancer research.

See the entire Glassybaby collection right here. (If you're in the Seattle area, be sure to visit the company's retail shop and glassblowing studio. And on Thursday, November 1, hundreds of Glassybabies will be on display and sale from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Presidio's Log Cabin, Building 1299, in San Francisco.)

(Via the San Francisco Chronicle.)

The Artful Home: Linda Plaisted

Washington, D.C.-area artist Linda Plaisted, who goes under the name Manymuses, works in a variety of mediums -- she's a painter, photographer, illustrator, and mixed media artist. Yet all of her work (such as Town Crier, above) shares a beautiful plaintiveness and an exquisite sense of melancholy.

Hers are rural scenes, for the most part, captured in the bleak and bittersweet of late autumn -- but with intricate layering, a rich sepia palette, and a gorgeously aged patina that renders them anything but plain.

Take a look:




The Ghost in You

Before the Frost Sets in

Cold Comfort

Three Sisters


No Reflection

Daily Observer


Each of Plaisted's prints is available in several sizes and finishes, ranging from for $18 for a 5-by-7 matte print up to $80 for a 16-by-20 metallic print. In addition, you can purchase gallery wrapped, ready-to-hang canvas prints for $60 to $350 each.

See more of Plaisted's work here.

Objects of Lust: Swank Lighting

Imagine stumbling upon a treasure trove of hundreds of pieces of gorgeous and highly sought-after vintage lighting lying forgotten in a dusty warehouse -- all of it utterly pristine and still in its original shipping crates.

That's exactly what happened to antiques dealers Ed Sexton and Doug Taylor of Dallas, who recently discovered the remaining inventory of the Edward P. Paul Company, importers of handblown Venetian and Murano glass made by Italian glass houses such as Barovier & Toso, Barbini, Seguso, and Venini from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Sexton and Taylor snapped up the entire cache and had each of the lamps rebuilt with new, UL-Certified hardware. Now the pair have opened a Dallas showroom and online store called Swank Lighting to showcase their incredible "20th century archaeological finds."

Mind you, the lamps are very, very dear, ranging from $1,800 to $6,000 a pair. But as Sexton explains, the prices reflect not only the size, rarity, and quality of the lamps but also the skill and difficulty that went into making them: "Opaline glass, for instance, required the glass blowers to actually blow lead powder into the glass," he says. "As you can imagine, that process is outlawed today."

So yes, a pair of these exquisite lamps will definitely put a crimp in your credit card. But they're also works of art to be treasured for a lifetime.

Check out Swank Lighting's entire inventory right here -- even if, as in my case, it's only to admire it from afar.


©Copyright 2007-2014 More Ways To Waste Time and Leah Hennen. All Rights Reserved.