Friday, June 27, 2014

Not Just For Books

Growing up, we all had bookshelves...with books on them. That was what they were for; a practical way to keep books from sitting in a higgledy-piggledy pile on the table. Books were part of our everyday life; to look up information, learn how to spell a word, and to imagine adventures before we went to sleep.
Now, we have the Internet, and books don't take up quite as much household space as they used to.

But, we still have the shelves. And, while some people throw them out with their television stands, I want to roam the world, and rescue every single one of them. All I see are magical opportunities; the perfect solution to almost every design problem.

Sometimes, we get hung up on the name. For example, thinking that a dining room table can only go in the dining room. Umm, no, it can go anywhere you want; an alarm won't sound, and the dining room police won't tell you off for moving it. Just because something can't be used for exactly what it was made for, doesn't mean it becomes useless.

A bookshelf is one of those "something's". For many, it could seem to be a boring (and almost extinct) piece of furniture, but for me, it is one of the best things to have in your home.

If you're considering throwing yours away, why not try to look at it a little differently; forget about the books for a moment, and think of it as extra storage. Contrary to what you may think, it doesn't have to be filled with pretty objects to look good; all you need is what you already have..... 
  • Be creative; maybe you don't need that bookshelf in your family room anymore. Could you use it in your foyer for shoes, your kitchen as a pantry, your garage for tools?
  • Check to see if you can adjust the shelf heights, or remove one; it looks more interesting, and you can often fit more things onto it. 
  • Whatever you are storing on it, place the nicest, neatest (or your favorite) things onto the most noticeable (eye level) shelf first. 
  • Put the most utilitarian (and heavy) pieces on the bottom.
  • Fill in the rest of the spaces with groups of whatever else you have.
  • Use boxes and bowls to organize odd bits and pieces.
Have fun, and enjoy your weekend!  

p.s. What about this idea of using an old book shelf as a headboard? Isn't it clever? The lovely photograph is fromCanadian House and Home, and the paint color is Farrow and Ball's Setting Plaster No. 231.                 
p.p.s. Do I need to mention safety? Check your bookshelf is safe before loading it up, and attach it to the wall if you need too.         

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

cake in a cup = Creative Perfeckshun

Most of the creative people I know think they are perfectionists, but are actually not perfect at all; attention to detail is there, and they don't like to leave a task until it is done to their liking, but they are always open and creative in their approach. Put ten of them in a room, and you will not be able to hear yourself think, as they loudly give you more than ten different solutions to the same problem.

Some people say you are born to be creative, but I wonder if it is also a bit like a muscle; the more you use it, the more it works. Of course, we all have different strengths, and while being artistic might be in someones DNA, creativity might be something we can all learn to embrace, nurture, and have fun with.

Which brings me back to perfection. The other day, I read a really great theory; that creativity begins with letting go of having to do everything perfectly, and the willingness to discover other options.
What they suggested was so simple, that I wanted to share it with you....

Practice making a recipe without having all the ingredients. Whether it is a meal or a cake, go ahead and turn the oven on, knowing full well that you are not prepared.
Don't dismiss Chicken Tarragon because you have no tarragon. (I don't like tarragon anyway). Substitute thyme, or whatever is in your cupboard or your garden. If you don't have any herbs, make it anyway, add whatever you feel like, and see what happens.
The same with a cake. Yes, they say it is a science, but I often use a lot less sugar, and I play with the proportions and flavor, until the raw batter looks (and tastes) good to me. What is the worst that can happen? It's still cake.                   

The joy of this is, playing with a recipe forces you to stretch that creative muscle, and to see that there are always other options around.
After doing this a few times, you will start to look at everything else a little differently; there will automatically be more solutions to your problems, tarragon will disappear from your shopping list, and you will start to see the world in a far more interesting (creative) way....

p.s. Here is the yummy Cake in a Cup recipe.  
p.p.s. Yes, we all have issues; it was not easy for me to press "send" with a deliberate spelling mistake in the title.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If your Shade could Speak

I don't understand why we have ugly lampshades in this world. Does it really cost more to make a nice one?

Considering many homes don't have ceiling lights, table and floor lamps are often a necessity, not just a pretty thing that helps you read the newspaper, or see what you're having for dinner.

Funny thing is, when you buy a new lamp, there are thousands of perfectly lovely shades just sitting and waiting to be bought; almost touching your elbow, and taunting you for just $39.95 plus tax. And, you can't swap them out (I have tried) because they now have little plastic tabs attached, making sure that you don't accidentally lose the ugly shade that is sadly clinging to your new lamp.

It's a shame, because lampshades are an easy way to change up a room, and it is a complete waste of money to buy another one before the plastic has even been taken off the first (you do remove the plastic, don't you?). And, let's be honest, as busy as most people are, shade shopping is not usually high on the "To Do" list.

So, if I was Queen, I would decree that all lamp stands and shades must be sold separately. That way, we could choose whatever we wanted, it would save us a lot of time (and money) and our rooms would be very grateful.

Until then, try to have fun with your shade; find ones that you really like, play with different shapes, consider decorating the boring ones, and splurge on an extra one when you can.

(p.s. The absolutely delightful photograph above is by Rodney Smith, and I loved it so much that I made it as big as the blog would allow).