Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ikea Vittsjo Hack

The versatile Ikea Vittsjo is yet another popular series for Ikea hackers. This past weekend I picked up this Ikea Vittsjo Laptop Table with the plan to hack it into a sofa table or hall table for the basement.
There are already tons of fabulous hacks done to the Shelving Unit, like this:

Honey Sweet Home's gold leaf hack is by far my favourite and I totally love the distressed yet highly reflective finish.

Islay Street Style's spray-painted version is also glamorous.

And Fiscally Chic's practical yet stylish hack turned the laptop table into a hall table like this:

Or a spray-painted version by Hope, Longing, Life as a kitchen workstation.

Now I just need to wait for a quieter weekend to start the transformation. Stay tuned for the reveal.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tall, Fat and Wide

As I was researching for kitchen island lights, I came across these utilitarian chic lights by Tom Dixon - a series of lights inspired by the sculptural simplicity of brass cooking pots and traditional water vessels on the subcontinent. The Beat lights are spun and hand-beaten by renowned skilled craftsmen of Moradabad in Northern India. I can't help but wondering where Ikea got their inspiration from for the ANGENÄM bowls and plates eh?

As much as I love them, they probably wouldn't work with my dark cabinetry and somewhat transitional style kitchen. However, they will work perfectly for a modern kitchen like this:

Or a white kitchen like this:
Via Houzz
Or an industrial chic kitchen like this:

If you love the beat brass, the matte black finish and the tall, fat and wide shapes but don't like the price tags at $535 each, you can consider an Ikea hacked version based the ANGENÄM bowls and plates like this
When I first saw the ANGENÄM series at Ikea, I immediately thought of a Tom Dixon beat light hack. But upon a Google search I figured I wasn't the first one to have come up with such an idea after all.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Decorating with Obelisks

My Mom always started spring cleaning early as if she couldn't wait to bid the winter farewell. As she went through boxes and boxes of stuff in her storage, she found this pair of vintage crystal obelisks probably from since her 20's. She vaguely remembered she bought them back in her 20's, but that's such a distant memory and she has no emotional attachment to them. She took pictures, sent them to me and phoned me to ask if I wanted them. I can't tell you how much I love to be surprised like this by my Mom, and this isn't the first time. It makes me want to go and clean her house! :)

A few days later these beauties are home with me. They are about 10" in height, perfect for a coffee or hall table. They are made of solid Austrian lead crystal and weigh a ton!

I've always wanted to add a pair of quartz or crystal obelisks to my decorative accessories pool, however, they are usually very pricey ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. I like the stately symmetry, glam and a touch of luxury obelisks add to a space.

You could pair two different sizes together like this:

Or two of the same size like this:

Or group a few different sizes together to maximize the impact like this: I drool over this dining nook. 

Don't you just love these quartz obelisks? A pair of them can easily go for over 10 grands!

Or the most conventional way like this on a hall table.

Eventually I think I will get a pair of natural quartz obelisks (perhaps with Lotto Max?), but for now, I am happy with what I have. If you are interested in learning more about decorating with obelisks, you can check out Obelisk Decorating Blog and Matters of Style blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rock My World

I've always wanted to get a rocking chair but the selections out there aren't great. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'd know that a big-box-store-style rocker isn't really my cup of tea. I have a very specific list of must-haves: solid wood (there are tons of rattan ones out there and to me they don't belong in a bedroom or nursery); an antique or vintage one-of-a-kind piece with a lot of characters but not too ornate; not a glider; and definitely not shabby chic. Easy peasy right?

I truly believe that good things happen when you least expect them. I came across "the one" a couple of weeks ago as I was aimlessly browsing on CList. After a few email exchanges, a couple of phone calls and 30 minutes drive, we took this gorgeous home. This antique rocking chair has everything I was looking for and more and is in mint condition. It was a heirloom piece of the seller's family from his own nursery! I personally would've kept it in the family, but he and his partner moved into a much smaller home and they have no room for it any more. Hey I am not complaining - their loss, my gain!

Love the Spanish Mission style carved legs and Revival finials!

Since it's in such a good shape, the only thing I'd probably do is to have it reuphostered in a fabric that'd work better for the room. I love the peppy yellow fabric as is but it all depends on the overall colour pallete of the room I am going to decorate in.

Isn't it perfect?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Taking Time to Smell The Roses

Just want to pop in to say Hi and let you know I am still here. We have visitors so life's been pretty occupied lately. I will be back to post regularly in a few days.

For now I'd like to share a couple of pictures taken while we were showing our guests around the City.

I must have been to UT campus hundreds of times but never took time to appreciate the stunning architectures. Sometimes beauty is right in front of our eyes.

Knox College, University of Toronto

Knox College Chapel, University of Toronto
Bare tree outside of Convocation Hall, University of Toronto

Hope you had a great Family Day long weekend. Talk soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Foyer DIY Abstract Art

A few weeks ago I painted this abstract art inspired by Richard Serra. I tried to hang it up in the foyer, liked it and took it to a framing shop to have it framed. I chose the faux bamboo champagne frame over the floater (are you surprised?) because I think it works better for the space. So here it is.

BW Abstract Art in Regency Faux Bamboo Frame in Champagne.

A closeup look of the painting.

So this is what it looks like in my foyer. I wish you could see the textures and reflections I could see from different angles.

The staircase looks so overwhelming in all my pictures. My next step is to decide whether to paint the staircase like this, mockup done in PS.

At a minimum, I think I will paint the stringers on both sides to match the painted wall panels. So what do you think? Shall I paint the staircase like in the mockup?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vintage Find: Blanc de Chine Figurines

February 10 marked the beginning of a new lunar year - the Year of Snake. A Chinese New Year celebration means keeping your house clean, decorating in red and gold, avoiding using words such as the number 4 (pronounced as "si" in Chinese = death), and of course around-the-clock good food and wine with family.

You need to be close to Chinese malls like Pacific Mall or Market Village to feel the festive mood. On Saturday or the New Year Eve Anthony and I decided to go there after his haircut. Btw, haircut is strictly prohibited on the first day of the Chinese New Year because it will cut away the fortune. We don't really follow these rules but since we were going to get the haircut this weekend so we went with the Eve. Plus, just like my father always says, why tempt the luck right?

We strolled to the same chinaware store where I picked up the vintage pair of foo dogs. Funny enough, as soon as I entered the store, I saw this pair of Blanc de Chine Porcelain Elegant Figurines on the same top shelf where I found the foo dogs! As if the owner was again waiting for me to find them! These elephant figurines were made of the finest porcelain - they felt so smooth and soft to touch, and appear translucent. They were meant to be mine.
Now they are sitting on a sofa table in my living room, together with the also-vintage Blanc de Chine Kwan Yin figurine. It looks like the Year of Snake is off to a good start for me. 

This week is full of work travel for me plus two of my cousins are coming to visit. I am excited and stressed at the same time. 

My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy Year of Snake!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Color Me Happy: Red

There's no other better time to blog about the color red when there is so much love in the air. As much as I love to go rouge for lips, pumps and dresses, I am yet to venture the color into my home decor.

From the centre clockwise:

  • Although there's absolutely nothing Emma Stone would ever look bad in, she floored the masses with this cherry red Lanvin dress at the Gangster Squad premiere.
  • Critics can't get enough of Yves Rocher's Moisutrizing Cream Lipstick in Rouge coquelicot - it's a shade of red with the orange undertone that makes your teeth appear so much whiter!
  • The iconic Love sculpture from NYC: I was wondering how many lovebirds are gushing there to have their photos taken on Valentine's Day.
  • Red Sea Fan Red Coral on Stone Base from OBXTradinggroup.
  • I would love to have this timeless Arne Jacobsen Egg chair in my home office.
  • Surprise your loved ones with this super easy to make red velvet cupcakes from Gimme Some Oven.
  • Alessi Anna G. Cockscrew in Red.
  • Peugeot u'Select Paris Salt & Pepper Mill Set in Red Lacquer from Williams-Sonoma.
  • The only way to top the Christian Louboutin's red sole is to have a pair of these FIFI pumps in RED pony! Give any girl a pair of these and we can conquer the world!
  • I am not a LV follower but really love this shade of red: the Louis Vuitton Alma GM patent leather tote in Pomme D'Amour.

Monday, February 4, 2013

DIY Black and White Abstract Art

This is something I wanted to do for a long time but kept putting off - a DIY black and white abstract painting inspired by the minimalist sculptor Richard Serra's lithographic crayon print, more specifically, his iconic topsy-turvy circles. I've never used paintstick or wax-like grease crayon as a medium before so instead I intended to recreate the look (from afar at least) using acrylic on canvas.

This is not a small time commitment as it took me over a few weekends to complete it. Here is a step-by-step guide in case you are interested in trying out yourself. It's time consuming but otherwise pretty straightforward:

Although the 24x36" stretched canvas I picked up has already been primed, I primed it again with a black paint. Before the paint dried, I quickly stroke out the outlines of the circles. To me these circles are infinite - could you tell where it all started or ended? Legend has it that you could complete these circles in one stroke.

I waited until the black paint completely dried, then painted the circles in very heavy-body white. Through this step I added texture and dimension to the circles which later on could be painted over in black colour. To create a "charcoal and ink print" effect, I used a paper towel to dab runny white paint onto the black canvas. I was pleasantly surprised by the "texture" a ball of paper towel left behind.

I waited a few days for the above to dry up, and used a heavy-body black paint to paint over the white circles. After a few hours, I used a trowel-blade palette knife and started to layer heavy-body white paint over the remaining area. It took a few coats and a lot of patience, all of the efforts needed to create a "print" effect.

A few more days later, I used a ball of paper towel and dabbed some runny burnt umber, raw sienna and vandyke brown paint mix all over the white area to "age" the paint.

The "aged" effect.

I tried it in the foyer and kind of liked it, so I took it to a framing shop and narrowed down to two options: a gold-leaf floater frame (on the left corner in the picture below) - a very popular choice for a minimalist abstract painting like this; and a regency faux bamboo frame in a champagne finish. 
It will be ready later this week, so I will leave you with this cliffhanger for the time being. Please check back in a few days for the reveal. :)

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