Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's in a Name?

If you combine my love of retro appliances with a made-up swear word from the future, you get a SMEG. Completely besotted with the word since watching Red Dwarf, I couldn't believe that the simple, curved beauty of an appliance could be permanently etched with a name that I find so amusing.

There are many retro appliances that make my heart quicken, but this is my favorite, and I am embarrassed to say it has a lot to do with the name. How can you be sad if you are looking at the word Smeg several times a day?

Most names sound utilitarian, and are associated with efficiency and practicality; I am sure that Whirlpool was created because of the shape it made when the water spun around, and that KitchenAid came naturally to someone who felt it was an aid in the kitchen. Others, like Maytag and Black & Decker, are named after the founders, while some are acronyms for something that was considered far too lengthy for the consumer to pronounce (the beloved AGA, originated in Sweden, and is short for Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator).

Do we actually buy appliances because of their name, and does their name really mean anything at all? I think it does. We rely on certain names because of their reputation, some we buy because we are being loyal to the country that it is manufactured in, and others we lean towards just because we grew up seeing them over and over in our parents home.

Then, there are the one's that tug at our hearts; lured by their style and color, they have the ability to cheer us up on a morning, and make the most boring of tasks seem like fun. I purchased a toaster many years ago, that has the word TOAST on each side. I am sure it is not as efficient as it used to be, and it is showing a few signs of age, but I still smile when I see the word toast on my toaster (from a practical perspective, when I also show signs of age, it will be an easy reminder at breakfast time).

So, would I get something that wasn't as well made as another, just because of the name?
The logical answer would be "Of course not!", but my personal, honest answer would be "Yes!". I would gladly share my life with slightly frivolous Smeg, even if it was for a very short time, than wake up every morning to an efficient, but uninspired kitchen appliance.

p.s. The photograph is from West Elm, where you can buy the toaster (and the flamingos).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Luxury For Less

Our January credit card bill is here. We wonder how we managed to spend $423. at the dollar store, what made us buy four identical black sweaters, and is it too soon to ask the postman if he ate that nice box of chocolates that we mailed to our friend across town.

This is typically not our favorite time of year, and while we ponder the meaning of life (and wiggle into our too-tight jeans) maybe it's time to cheer ourselves up with a little bit of inexpensive, but indulgent, decorating.
Believe it or not, it's not always money that makes a home feel rich, so if you've got a few hours to play with, and are looking to cheer yourself up (without adding dollars to your credit card bill) why not shop your home, and bring some luxury back into your rooms.    


Even if it is your least favorite color, every room needs some touches of black. It visually anchors a room, and adds interest, elegance and mystery to a space.


Simple, composed collections, and vast empty spaces are calming, which makes a home 
feel luxurious. It implies that you are quite confident in your personal style, that you have just enough of what you need, and that no explanation is necessary.


Don't laugh, but this says a lot about who you are, and most importantly, it shows that you also value things that are not necessarily valuable.


Have a favorite photograph enlarged to gigantic proportions, paint your own design, or find an affordable piece from a local artist.

Be excessive in your choice. Fill a wall.
Give it pride of place, and just let it be by itself. It doesn't have to make sense, or match your decor,
you just have to love it!


Whether you share it, or live alone, your bedroom should be the space you have always dreamed of. 
Spoil yourself. Make it enviable - a favorite place that you can't wait to go to at the end of the day, and a room that makes you feel grateful to wake up in first thing in the morning.


Use far more than you need! To add decoration, to bring in the light, to reflect something beautiful, and, of course, for looking in before you step out into the world.


Casually draped over a sofa or chair, their lush softness reminds us of a more elegant time; when travelling to far off places was a special occasion - an adventure waiting to happen, filled with leather luggage, coordinated outfits and personal tour guides.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Window Watching

I sleep with the curtains open. It's not an invitation to peep (you would have to either dangle from a helicopter, or be a very skilled acrobat to see into the window) but I do like to look outside while lying in my bed. Perhaps it's from listening to so many of Robert Louis Stevenson's poems as a child, or, much less romantically, the worry of that large tree falling on my house, but whatever the reason, I do find it comforting to curl up so small and warm by the window, imagining all sorts of life happening outside as I fall sleep.

I think that maybe the world is divided into two types of people - those who crave sunlight and sky, and those who prefer privacy over exposure. Not to say that sunlight people are exhibitionists, but we tend to compromise a bit more when we need our Vitamin D, and if that means excessive dreaming and the occasional mad dash behind the curtain then so be it.

But windows do far more than let in the daylight and shield us from passers-by - they show us the world, and let us watch the changing seasons without wearing a coat, or grabbing for a nearby pair of flip-flops. They make us curious about the world, and let us wonder why the neighbor hasn't taken down their Christmas Tree yet (little do they know, that after we judge, we secretly enjoy seeing the twinkling lights on a cold, gray day).

I think, that if we didn't have windows, we wouldn't know that the morning always comes, that time passes whether we want it to or not, and that life without us is not as finite as we thought.
We tend to pause at the start of a New Year, and even the most cynical among us gives a passing thought as to how they are doing, and wonder if they could do just a little bit better. We write lists and lists on how we can change, but really, if we just take some time to look out the window, we will see that wonderful things are happening already....

p.s. The above illustration is by Marion H. Matchitt (she illustrated a lot of the childrens books that I have at home.