How was your weekend? We had a great time in the sunshine and the water (so happy my parents have a pool)! Now that it's basically summer, I'm thinking how much I can actually do on the iPad so I can work outside more often instead of always being cooped up inside at my desk.
If you're going to work outside, you need a comfy place to sit. Now that I've seen these special edition hammocks in Elle Decor, I'm kind of obsessing over a loftier way of lounging.
These hammocks are designed and woven by a young collective of craftspeople based in Masaya, Nicaragua. Each piece they produce (made-to-order) is handmade using cotton and bamboo or sustainable woods. The collective also makes a variety of hammocks, swings, and even a macrame crib!
They further minimize their environmental impact by only purchasing hardwood not in danger of extinction and use recycled paper and small amounts of tape in their packaging. 10% of the price of each item is used for community projects.
Don't these make you just want to set up a hammock outside, grab some lemonade, and sway to the breeze? I mean, look at these amazing settings. I just want to dive into these pictures, especially the last one (see more here):
Whether you are a devoted dog lover or just a really big fan of Go, Dog. Go! (as I am), you'll probably love this totally adorable cushion from Chelsea Textiles. This hand-embroidered cushion is designed by Scottish artist Domenica More Gordon on linen and cotton. It's high end, so not a cheap throw pillow, and too cute not to share! There are a few other styles available, as well.
Take a look at More Gordon's website, as it has images of her adorable wool felt animal figurines, watercolor dog portraits, and other whimsical drawings and illustrations, as well as charming video clips introducing her books, Archie, which came out a few years ago, and Archie's Vacation, which is officially available tomorrow, but you can pre-order today.
top image my own, bottom image via chelsea textiles
When you're adding global or ethnic touches to your decor, as many are wont to do, it's always nice if the pieces have an air of authenticity. Antique pieces often have a lot of personality, but new pieces can also bring great style to a space. Noted interior designer Sara Bengur recently debuted her newest products, which are inspired by her Turkish background and upbringing, as well as her extensive travels.
Sara has been in business nearly 20 years; her eponymous firm is located in New York. After hearing her name and seeing some of her work in publications for years, I finally had a chance to meet her at the gift show last month and she couldn't have been lovelier.
A lot of times when you ask designers what prompted them to create their own product line, the answer is that they couldn't find something they were looking for to use in their projects. "I often design custom pieces for my clients that have been inspired by either my Turkish roots or the location of the house I am working on at the time," she says. After increasing demand that she create her own line of products, she finally has.
Sara has spent a great deal of time studying and immersing herself in Ottoman designs. "The patterns have an organic quality and I love the idea of giving a new life to them in a different scale, form, and texture." Most of the products are made in Turkey, though the stoneware comes from nearby Malta. The collection features plenty of color because Sara believes rooms don't have to be neutral to be serene and cozy and she tries to encourage clients to follow suit.
Check out more of the new products:
Sara's favorite products are the peshtamals, more commonly known as hammam towels. "I call it my favorite travel accessory. You can use it as a shawl, scarf, towel, pareo, or blanket on the beach!" The peshtamals are woven by an all-women's cooperative in Southern Turkey.
My personal favorites are the covered bonbon dishes—love the scalloped edges—and the kilim runners shown at the top. A larger area rug incorporating the runners' designs is coming soon. Sara and I both share the opinion that the details and the layering of accessories are crucial to making a home more personal.
"My passion has always been to create the unexpected in interiors, something nobody has seen before. My hope is that through this line, people feel they own something unique and made just for them," Sara says.
images via sara bengur
I have this attraction to knit items, things with cable knit patterns, anything chunky and wooly looking. I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I'm basically allergic to wool. I can't wear sweaters with wool, even 10% wool content, for more than a miserable hour or two and cashmere is like sandpaper (truly) to my skin. I'm always drawn to clothing and home goods that incorporate chunky, woolen textures—I'm sure there's a psychological term for this. So of course when I saw these big, bright throws, I had to stop.
Loopy Mango, which also has a brick-and-mortar shop in Soho, was founded by two women who met at FIT. All the yarn is produced at the company's mill in Massachusetts and all the finished knitted products are handmade in NYC.
I love the Aspen Crochet Round rug, which unfortunately for me, only seems to come as a DIY kit currently. The kit is available in 20 individual colors but they also sell yarn on their website so you can choose additional hues if you wanted to recreate something something more mult-colored like this rug I saw at the gift show. The solid colored rugs are really chic and gorgeous, though.
The super-chunky finished throws come in eight colors, but again, you can buy your own yarn. They also offer custom sizes and designs upon request, so you can likely ask for a throw in any of the colors they offer.
In addition to various DIY kits, Loopy Mango also offers several free patterns on their website, in addition to links to their YouTube tutorials.
images are my own
Hope everyone is staying warm and lifting with their knees when they shovel, it's crazy out there lately. I drove down to New York last Friday to attend NYNOW, formerly NYIGF, the gift show at the Javits Center. In two and a half days—and 2700+ pictures later—I walked every single aisle of the show and saw some great products.
Mostly, I was really excited to be back in New York and to see a lot of the vendors I haven't seen in a while, since I missed the last three shows (not sure how that time flew so quickly). It was great to catch up with people and this was my first time experiencing the show since they changed the format and rebranded. I think it worked out well to have all the home companies under one roof, though as I walked the show, I realized there were several brands that I didn't see. I'm hoping they'll be there in August.
At any rate, I'm looking forward to sharing the things that I saw over the next weeks and months. In addition to new and interesting products, the booths themselves are often styled creatively. Here are just a few fun things I noticed:
Because my dining table is oval-shaped, it's very hard to find table linens. Rectangular placemats don't sit nicely next to each other if you have more than six people at the table and I can't decide if I should try round ones or those sort of trapezoidal shaped mats. I can't decide if they're weird or practical.
And tablecloths: Every time a package says it's oblong, it really means rectangular which of course doesn't look good. So I generally forgo table linens because the table looks good on its own, anyway. But I remain on the hunt. A runner like this might not sit quite right at the ends of the table, but it is so pretty, I think it's worth trying.
I don't generally think of myself as a floral person, but I do love these artful blooms, and the color palette is one of my favorites. So bright and happy, and I like the touch of metallic gold, too. The runner is suede, which probably feels wonderful and adds a nice mix of materials when you use it in combination with cloth or linen napkins, and the glassware, plates, and other decor elements. I think I would pair it with striped or dotted napkins, maybe in a pale pink, or a fresh green, or maybe a gray similar to the one that adds the petal detail to the flowers.
And it's on sale, which means it's probably on its way out. Too bad the gift card my sister got me from Anthropologie was accidentally not activated by the cashier and she isn't sure where the receipt is, so I can't get it activated. Curses!!
Anyone else have oval tables? I'd love to hear your suggestions or solutions!
images via anthropologie
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Aside from Sunshine getting a nasty stomach bug that lasted several days (and has now passed, fingers crossed), we had a great (fattening) holiday and lots of fun giving and playing with presents.
There's nothing like setting the table for all the elaborate meals during the holidays to make you re-evaluate the types of table linens you have. And certainly the holidays are the time to bring out special pieces, though of course I don't think you need to limit yourself to special occasions at all. Any occasion where you get together with loved ones is special enough to use the "good stuff." I love using fancy tabletop and linens; why else register for these things, right?
My table linens situation is a little sad. My dining table is a large oval and I find it so difficult to find an interesting tablecloth that is the appropriate size and isn't rectangular. Napkins are a bit easier: I have a set of four cloth napkins with metallic thread I picked up at HomeGoods and another set that goes with a tablecloth purchased to fit our old dining table. I would like to buy a new set of at least 12 napkins that can be mixed and matched (and will coordinate with a future tablecloth) and brought out when we have gatherings.
Aside from being more sophisticated than paper napkins, I like cloth for the environmental angle--less trash!
I really like the new line of table linens designed by Elson & Company. The napkins are the brand's first venture into tabletop products and are currently available exclusively through Elson & Company’s new online shop.
I've been familiar with the company for several years, since I saw their second Fashion Underfoot collection—the company is best known for their stylish carpets and collaborations with well-known designers such as Lulu DK, Kathryn Ireland, and Oscar de la Renta.
The debut collection of napkins offers a really fun mix of patterns and colors. You can easily create a traditional look, a more ethnic look, something that's a bit laid back, and there are designs that feel more formal, plus a couple that are distinctly holiday patterns, if you're thinking ahead for next year.
I'm partial to the Petals Coral, Hatch, John, and India patterns for both everyday use and special occasions.
The hand-dyed napkins are 100% cotton and made in India.
images via elson & company
One of the nice things about having this blog is I'm able to feature products or ideas that I wanted to, or tried to, feature in a magazine story but couldn't for whatever reason (time, space, story focus changed, art department was concerned it wouldn't photograph well, etc).
Haptic Lab's handmade quilts were one of those products I got super excited about when I first saw them in person and I've been hoping to find a way to showcase them since. The colder weather recently made me think of the quilts again, so I went to the studio's website to see what was new.
Part-craft, part-science, the five-foot-square Constellation Quilt is a hand-embroidered rendering of a swath of October night sky around the 40th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere and features constellations including the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Orion, Gemini, Leo, and Taurus. Gold stars create the constellations' boundaries while French knots depict the Milky Way diagonally across the quilt. A 14-inch letterpressed star chart is included with each quilt to help you orient yourself. This particular design was made possible by funding through a Kickstarter project.
Right now the Constellation Quilt ($279) is available by pre-order to arrive in time for the holidays.
The story behind artist/architect/Haptic Lab-founder Emily Fischer's work is interesting: Her work was inspired by her mother who'd begun losing her eyesight due to complications of glaucoma. Fischer began designing the quilts as an "experiment in tactile way-finding."
and if you've never seen the city quilts:
The level of detail is incredible, and these are much larger than the Constellation Quilt. You can just get lost in the maze of streets, alleys, and avenues. LA fans should check out the Los Angeles Burger Quilt.
For the truly talented, DIY kits are also available for many more cities and are cute because you can add your own patches or details based on locations or routes that hold personal meaning.
And take a look at the page of the studio's intricate custom work. I'm not a skier, but I love this ski trail map of Telluride, CO.
images via haptic lab
A couple of years ago at the NY gift show, I discovered then-new home accessories company Pehr (pronounced pair). I immediately asked founder Jennifer Kelly to borrow napkins and table runners for an entertaining story I was working on and carried them right off the floor on the last day of the show.
Jen and childhood friend and partner Rebecca Perren are based in Toronto and their designs are bright, modern, and easily mix-and-matchable. Since that gift show they have introduced additional patterns and expanded their product offerings to include other home items beyond the table linens they began with.
Now comes the launch of Petit Pehr—a collection for the younger set—inspired by their own growing families' needs and demand from customers and retailers. Bedding, swaddles, and storage come in three color ways: blue/red, pink/citron, and grey/yellow with complementary patterns mixed in. A sampling of the new collection:
The products are all available at Hudson, but check out their online catalog, if only for the sweet illustrations of snuggly animals (see above). Parents will appreciate that all of Pehr's products are made of natural cottons and linens, and better still, are machine washable.
Late last night, our closest friends from New Jersey gave birth to their second son. We were pregnant at the same time during the first go-round, and it was so nice to have someone to experience everything with since she was only a few weeks ahead of me. In their honor, I rounded up a few cute baby gifts. Welcome to the world DJM, can't wait to meet you!! Xx
Though I'm really not a monogram person, I do sometimes make exceptions. I love these precious personalized embroidery and felt hoop art pieces (above), $20-$27 each, from bluewithoutyoukids at Etsy.
I can get a little touchy about overly gender specific items (don't get me started on all the pink), so I love the cute unisex robot blanket from Little Auggie, $78.
This teether (with too-sweet app icons) won't fool them for long, but at least in the early months, it is nice if the phone they're chewing on isn't yours! Canadian maple laser-engraved teether, $12, 3PrincessesStore at Etsy.
Illustrator Wayne Pate now brings his adorable designs to wearable items, $28, exclusively at Serena & Lily. Love the little seafaring bird with knit cap and pipe.
I'm a huuuuge fan of baby and kids' toys that are made of wood or fabric. These fruits and veggies are so cute and are made and stuffed with certified organic Egyptian cotton, $8 each, Under the Nile. Even better, they are machine washable.
There are so many reasons to start teaching your baby a foreign language, and of course starting when babies are young is easiest. These blocks come in Mandarin, $37, or Spanish, $34, UncommonGoods.
#checkout this blog with shop-themed puns
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