July 26, 2010

LOVE: By Design

It's been awhile since I've posted anything, but with good reason!

Along with some friends, I have been busy developing a new organization called LOVE: By Design. The vision of our organization is use design to serve and love our neighbors. There are so many in our community who give so much yet have so little...we want to use design to serve them. Our desire is twofold: to create a refuge they are excited to call home, and to share their stories with the world. Think "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" but less extreme and more local!

Our first project was for an organization called Taller San Jose in Santa Ana. Taller San Jose is an innovative Santa Ana program that walks young people out of poverty by offering the hope of a productive and self-reliant future. Whether they are emerging from prison, poverty, or young motherhood, the team at TSJ walks these 18-28 year olds through rehabilitation and job training in the areas of medical careers, office careers and construction.

The heart and soul of Taller San Jose is their Career Center. Here, students and alumni find the resources and personal assistance they need to find a successful career. The problem is, the Career Center was in a poor state. It was run-down, old and boring. Students have been crying out for the room to be updated and to have a space where they feel comfortable spending time.

We were inspired to help. Here are the results of our first project!










If you are interested in learning more about our organization, interested in volunteering or donating for future project, or want to follow our progress, you can visit our website at www.lovebydesignproject.org or find us on Facebook!

April 18, 2010

Terrariums: The Simple How-To

We all know that plants make a house feel like home. They add life and character. One of the best ways to stylishly liven up your home is with a terrarium...and they're definitely making a comeback in a very fresh and modern way! The best part is...they need very little care and need to be watered infrequently.

So, I set out to build a terrarium for my space. I thought I would bring you along for the ride and give you the how-to!

Step 1: The materials...
  • a fun glass container (I got this funky one at Marshalls for 12 bucks!)
  • plant of choice: ferns are a good option...as well as any houseplant that does well with moisture and indirect lighting. Stay away from succulents, as they struggle in the moist environment of a terrarium. (Keep in mind when choosing a plant, and when watering, that terrariums with lids will stay moist longer and need plants that will thrive in these conditions.)
  • small rocks or pebbles
  • charcoal
  • moss
  • potting soil
We start with the drainage layers: put down a layer of moss to absorb water and a layer of rocks to provide drainage and separation between the soil and the container bottom.

The charcoal is added next to absorb any odors and aid in drainage. Another layer of moss is added to keep the soil from falling between the charcoal and stones.

Next comes the soil. Add as much as you can: enough to supply room for the plant's roots yet keep the plant away from the top and sides of the container. Feel free to make the soil uneven to add character.

Then add your plant friend. It's a good idea to break up the root ball, spread the roots out, and perhaps clip them a bit to keep the plant from growing too large for its new home!

I added some moss and a few rocks here and there. And thus you have the finished product:

After a few weeks, I decided to try a different look. I removed the moss on the surface and used only rocks with a few cute fungi friends I found on etsy. I like the color contrast of the dark rocks, the bright green and red.

Make sure the soil is evenly watered, but don't over-water. Terrariums don't need to be watered all that often. If they have a lid, they need to be watered even less! With a lid, condensation will build up. When it does, remove the lid for awhile until it dissipates.

And there you have it. Terrariums 101.

Enjoy! But be careful, they're addictive and darn cute! :)

If you make one, please share a picture!

February 22, 2010

ModEats: Mid-Century Goes Country?

Question: What do you get when you mix mid-century modern with down-home country comforts?

Answer: TART - a fabulous restaurant in Los Angeles serving up food with a Southern flare in an environment to satisfy the design-happy.

Located on Fairfax, TART is directly across the street from The Farmer's Market at The Grove. Although The Grove offers many food options...it is totally worth it to walk across the street and experience this dining treasure.

The dining room can only be described as fabulous modern meets country kitchen. The pendant lamps, leather barstools and bright teal walls scream mid-century while the lace-lined cupboards, wooden chairs and sweetly displayed teacups remind you of apple pie and simpler times.

While the food was great and kept my tummy happy, I was busy gawking at the decor and the amazing patio. The center of the patio features an oversized collection of succulents while lines of clear bulbs criss-cross overhead, making it feel more like an outdoor room than a patio. We were snuggled in a corner booth on the patio with the best view in the house!

I wish I had taken pictures, the following online photos don't do it justice or show its finest features...

The restaurant is actually part of the Farmer's Daughter Hotel, which is an equally cool place and totally worth checking out!

So, next time you're in LA, check out TART. Follow the link to see their menu...because...after all, it IS a place to eat. :)

Just as a sidenote...I'm happy to report that they only serve grass-fed beef, free range chicken and organic greens! They're also well-known for their yummy breakfast. The service could be a little speedier, but in a place like this, who cares!


February 16, 2010

Inspiration :: Bar Stools

A reader commented on my last entry saying that she needed some inspiration finding colorful bar stools to complement her all-white kitchen. Let's see what we can find:

We'll start off by aiming high...

These Erik Buch bar stools are classically Danish...
While these Onda barstools are classically Design Within Reach...

Or, you can head over to Modernica to build your own!

But for those of us on a budget, we will dream big and purchase logically. These great orange stools were found at a secondhand store...

Stalk Craigslist for great deals, like these Bertoia Stools (whose seat pads can be interchanged and brightened up)...

And lastly, search the Pennysaver weekly for local estate/garage sales and keep an eye out for up-and-coming websites like This is Not Ikea that offer unique, vintage finds.

Good luck, Jen! :)

February 12, 2010

The "I Hate" Series...Part I

Here begins an occasional installment I'd like to call the “I Hate…” Series. Because there are too many monstrosities out there being passed off as “design” that just bug me to no end!

First off…

I Hate…Contemporary Kitchens!

Living in Orange County, I have seen more Tuscan, contemporary kitchens than I can stomach. If I see one more cookie-cutter kitchen with granite countertops, I may just die of granite overload! For example:

Yuck. You've basically just seen a picture of every kitchen in the city where I reside.

In the 50's, kitchens started becoming the hub of the house. We all know that eating fosters community...where we eat is where we gather! So, this begs the question…why would you want your kitchen to be generic, cold or void of feeling?

Does that look like a place you'd want to recline with friends? I mean, it's pretty...but, c'mon...

Kitchens are part of a home...they should be inviting and have character! If you live in an old house, don't gut the kitchen and replace it with contemporary nonsense...let some character remain (or at least rebuild it with character!) Whether old or new, kitchens can be completely stylish but still be warm, inviting and unique!

And don't be afraid of color! Color adds warmth and personality...

Even brand new, modern kitchens can have character...but they need to look LIVED in! I'll admit, I do think this one is pretty...

So...when you are thinking about your dream kitchen, imagine yourself there...holding a hot cup of tea and talking with a good friend. It might even be possible that the kitchen of your dreams is already under your nose, in your own home! Maybe it just needs a little refresher!

Until next time, when it comes to design...don't be concerned about keeping up with the Jones's...be yourself, be unique...and don't fall for the granite countertops. :)

P.S. If you have any great kitchen pictures to share, please do! We would love to see them!

P.P.S. I apologize if I am offending anyone, I'm sure your granite countertops are lovely. :)