One rule I follow when thrifting is to see a find for what it can be not what it is. Take this antique drawer I found at an estate sale. It was at the bottom of a scrap wood pile in a stuffed-to-the-gills garage. The home’s previous owner had been a never-throw-away-anything-you-may-someday-need type and had seen the potential usefulness of a small drawer that had long since been separated from it’s original piece of furniture.
What sold me is its runner-less construction. Runners are the wood or metal glides that help a drawer to smoothly slide in and out; without them a drawer is just a shallow box. I was on the lookout for a small tray that could do double duty serving food and drinks at parties and was big enough to neatly store magazines on my coffee table the rest of the time – I thought I could make this drawer work. The bottom was flimsy due to water damage so I added a plywood board to strengthen it then tacked on quarter-round trim to disguise my fix and handles on each end so it could really function as a tray.
This project was a bargain costing me less than 10 bucks -- $3 for the drawer + another $6 for the handles which are actually gate pulls rather than drawer pulls. The quarter-round trim and stain I already had on hand.
So, last week most of the HGTV.com editorial team headed to NYC to soak up four days of contemporary and ultra-modern design at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Liz, Briana, Camille, Farima and I all covered 145,000-square-feet of space and talked with hundreds of designers, retailers and manufacturers from all over the globe. It. Was. Exhausting. And so much fun! We met Jonathan Adler, bumped into our very own Jamie Durie (who turned us all into giggling fools) and picked up some incredible design trends that we can’t wait to share with you all. But with more than 500 exhibitors, we were bound to pass a few unique and odd pieces worth passing along, since we’re pretty sure you won’t be finding any of these in your local furniture shops. Of course we saw plenty of functional, innovative and clever furnishings, but these are purely design for design’s sake. Ready to see? Here we go!
Carnegie Fabrics :: Parsons The New School for Design
A Structural Pavilion Created From Sustainable Fabric: I was completely and utterly mesmerized by this canopy that I noticed within the first few minutes of entering the conference on day one. Design students from Parsons The New School for Design took fabric off a chair and upcycled each piece to form this dreamy structure. Imagine installing this in your outdoor space and hiding from the sun with a good book. Sigh…
A Chandelier Made From Strands of Velcro: “Velcro: it’s not just for your KangaROOS shoes. It can also be your chandelier, and a beautiful one at that. These are custom made-to-order — the designer lives in Ireland but sells a lot in London and NYC, too.” — Liz Gray
Tracy Kennedy Wallpaper
Textured Wallpaper With Touchable Fringe: “When I first saw this wallpaper, I immediately thought of the flapper costume I wore a few years ago for Halloween. I can totally see it in a swanky bar in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, it was one of the most memorable pieces of the show for me.” — Farima Alavi
See a Mannequin Lamp, Zombie Chair + More
Sorry, this is another one of those situations in which I find myself fancying something French despite my utter lack of French-speaking and comprehension skills, so I’m at the mercy of Google Translate on this one. This stunner is a Grange hall cabinet from the Exceptions de GRANGE collection, as far as I can tell.
Google Translate also tells me it’s a “furniture input concept,” and while I am not sure exactly what that means, I like the sound of it! Maybe it’s referring to the fact that parts of it are 3D while the drawers and shelves are recessed into the unit itself? It’s like a wild mashup of this DIY nightstand by Brian Patrick Flynn, the trompe l’oeil door decals I wrote about and this Heidi Merrick Huntington dress in Neapolitan that I’ve had my eye on for weeks. In other words, this piece looks like it’d put the fun back in functional.
[Via: ARRAY Magazine]
As much fun as it is to jazz up a neutral couch with fun accents like throws and pillows, sometimes a statement sofa is where it’s at. The Sofa 3031 by Josef Frank has clean modern lines, and comes in different fabrics and styles but this blue-green variation (“in accordance with Estrid Ericson‘s instructions”) is one of the more interesting versions.
There are 14 different shades of blue-green linen on this sofa, and the effect is subtle, yet eye-catching. The almost-ombre reminds me of the way the ocean sometimes looks from above. I’m entranced, but what do you think of the statement? Is a multi-hue for you, or do you think it’s 13 shades too many?
Speaking of trompe l’oeil, here’s another delightful find I remembered from the AD show as I combed through the business cards I gathered there. Zachary A. Design‘s outdoor furniture looks like it was chiseled out of stone or formed from solid concrete, but is light enough to be moved by a toddler. (See the incredible pic below!)
They furniture is actually made from a combo of fiberglass and coarse sand, so it’s light enough to move around your yard at will, but sturdy enough that it won’t blow away in a breeze (unlike the plastic monoblocs of yore). And it’s all-weather with a very convincing finish — I touched it at the show, and it really does feel like it would age and wear in an attractive, organic way. I’d love to put these modern beauties near a swimming pool this summer. (So who has a pool and wants to invite me over, eh?)
Most of my preferences in furniture could be boiled down to one concept: “More places to put more things.” Again, it could be my specific circumstance of city-dwelling, but many times I think if a bed = good, a bed with a storage platform base = better. If you’re of the same mind, I think you’ll like this MASH Studios LAX Coffee Table.
This smart piece is no ordinary coffee table. No, it’s a divided walnut coffee table with an aluminum sliding top. That means you can tuck things inside of it and store things on top of it. And because the top cover slides, you can conceal or reveal whatever you have tucked inside the table with ease. I would love the ability to throw the things I have on my coffee table out of necessity (coasters, remotes) inside, slide the cover over and let my pretty art books steal the show.
When I saw this Juniper Bookshelf from Kenneth Cobonpue, I actually did a double take. Whaaaa?! It looks so much like the tree tables by Estudio Nomada I posted about a few days ago I thought I had to be dreaming.
It’s made from oak veneer, and though it comes in a large and small size and three different finishes, I think the taller size and this pale color look the most like the tree tables. So if Estudio Nomada’s creation had you dreaming of an indoor forest of your own, these bookshelves make the dream that much more possible.
Remember how I said I was obsessed with finding ways to maximize space because I live in a small apartment (and also because I get the same thrill out of it that I get when I am shopping in a thrift store and find something amazing)? I have a feeling the Rolly Shelf by Matt Carr on Umbra is about to be my new best friend.
What a pretty little baby! The walnut unit has “multiple stacking configurations,” so you don’t have to put it together exactly as shown, and can customize it to best fit your space. I also love that it would play very well with the Danish modern furniture that I already own. This is one baby you SHOULD put in a corner!
(Totally wrote this whole piece just so I could work in that last line. Could you tell?)
I’m back in NYC and trying to process all the great takeaways from the Design Bloggers Conference. (Read: I learned a lot and am very jet-lagged.) I enjoyed meeting so many talented bloggers and designers, and listening to distinguished speakers like Bunny Williams. Her keynote was a highlight for me, and I know I’m not alone because it got a standing ovation. One thing she said that stuck with me was to “buy things that you love and grow with them,” and I think several pieces from Bunny’s own BeeLine Home could grow with me for a long time.
There’s a lot to love in the whole collection, but these pieces are my favorites because together they cover all my design bases: Rich color, an unusual shape, a twist on tradition, great craftsmanship and clever invention. (The Tray Chic Ottoman with the built-in tray? You know I am all about it.) I am saving up my money, and the next time I’m in the market for some furniture, I’m making a beeline for BeeLine.
Greetings from Los Angeles. I’m here with my colleague, Liz, attending the Design Bloggers Conference, so if any of you readers are also here, please do say hi! I’ll make it easy for you. Tomorrow, I’ll probably be wearing a fun, fuchsia blazer that looks a lot like this. There’s no way you can miss me, just like there was no way I was missing this bright Cocoon Sofa from Richard Shemtov on Dering Hall.
I have a very safe, neutral couch, so it’s fun to daydream about something more DayGlo. I obviously love the color, but the wooden base, sleek curves and luxe tufting add to the appeal. As the Cocoon is made-to-order, it isn’t exactly a discount delight, but I still love looking at it. Or looking like it, I guess, when I put on my pink blazer. (Just hopefully not quite as stuffed!)